Wednesday, February 18, 2009 shannonlee, Community Member, asks

Q: Does RA cause numbness??

Has anyone else had numbness???? My doc says its a Rheumatological issue. I am numb on my left side, mainly in my face, have headaches, blurred vision on and off and dull pain. The numbness goes down my throat and still have tightness in my neck. I swear in the mid of the night my internal organs felt numb. Its not going away, Im tired and out of it...I need true help....thanks for the support but I want an answer!!!!!!

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Answers (7)
Sara Nash, Health Guide
2/18/09 10:40pm

Hi Shannon,


Hmmm...I have only had RA for about a year and a half, so clearly am still a newbie and am not a doctor, but so far, I have not experienced anything like numbness or what else you describe.  I'm curious what meds you are on-I know that plaquenil can have side effects with vision, so if you are on that, that could be connected to the blurred vision and I would ask about it. 


I do also get migraines (they predate my RA), and sometimes, that affects my vision.  My migraines have become more frequent since my RA diagnosis, though neither my rheumatologist nor my neurologist think they are directly connected (ie. my RA doesn't cause my migraines, but it might contribute to them due to increased stress/neck tension).  


I would continue to talk to you doctor about it, and if you don't feel satisfied by their answer, seek another opinion.  I'm curious what others might say as I haven't come across a question like this so far, or experienced it myself....internal organs feeling numb seems pretty intense!



Lynkolh, Community Member
6/13/11 2:46pm

Please please get tested for Lyme disease, over half of all RA causes is because of Lyme, but are getting misdiagnosed...Please watch the movie...Under Our have no idea and you dont even have to know you was email is please keep me updated..i will then tell you a story...PLEASE EVERYONE ON THIS PAGE READING THIS MESSAGE GET TESTED FOR LYME DISEASE AND FILL FREE TO EMAIL ME AND LET ME KNOW WHAT THE RESULTS ARE....THANKS Lynette....

Lene Andersen, Health Guide
2/19/09 12:27pm

I had RA for over 40 years and this one's new to me, too. Numbness tends to be a neurological symptom more than stemming from RA, although if you have a lot of damage to the vertebrae in your neck, that could lead to neurological symptoms. As Sarah mentioned, it's possible that this may be a side effect of one of your medications and if your doctor is not giving you the answers in regards to this, you may want to have a chat with your pharmacist about your symptoms.


You are the best judge of what's going on with your body and if you are not satisfied with the explanation your doctor is giving you, go back and ask for tests and then some more tests. A referral to a neurologist may be a good idea. To get in through the "back door" and possibly get faster answers or referrals, you could go to the emergency room.


Good luck and please let us know how you're doing.


Ruth, Community Member
2/26/09 12:03pm

RA (any inflamatory arthritis) can cause numbness due to swelling cutting off circulation or swelling pressing on a nerve. It is unlikely however that it would cause general numbness like you talk about.


It sounds more like a pinched nerve in your neck. For years I had a pinched nerve in my neck that caused migrains that meant trips to the ER (predates the arthritis). Xrays, MRIs, etc. found nothing. It turned out, I could turn my head a certain way, pinch the nerve temporarily, and start the headaches and tingling - diagnosed by a good chiropractor. Once I started seeing a chiropractor on a semi regular basis, no more headaches.


With RA, it becomes even more important to make sure that all your bones/joints are aligned properly - chiropractics really do not aggrivate your arthritis and often help with the symptoms. Just find a good one and be very honest about your condition and symptoms.

Carolyn PA-C, Community Member
2/26/09 7:59pm

this is not a problem for a rheumatologist--it may be caused by RA but you need an evaluation by a neurologist.  RA can cause cranial nerve palsies which would cause facial numbness or a periferal neuropathy causing numbness in the arms and or legs. RA could also predispose you to stroke and heart attack.  These symptoms can also be caused by other illnesses not related to the RA.  The only way to be certain is to have a neurological exam by a board-certified neurologist including nerve conduction studies.

etherplain, Community Member
5/ 8/13 1:50pm

I went to a neurologist for numbness/tightness in my face that came on suddenly after taking two different antidpressents (my PCP thought I was just having anxiety... I now think my PCP made a mistake).  I have a family history of RA so I was of course worried about that and/or other autoimmune disease causing the symptom.


The Neurologist said my problem is too generalized to be neurological, even a pinched nerve and judging what the Original Poster said, I think we're in the same boat.  I also have some other symtoms including senstitivity to cold (or at least it feels that way, particularly my nose and hands) and joint pain in my fingers (sometimes) and occasionally weakness in my left arm and burning itching in both arms.  So basically I have stuff going on all over the place, but only in the upper extremities.  It all started however witht he face thing.

gisela, Community Member
2/27/09 11:12am


sandra, Community Member
3/ 1/09 11:24am

I always try to stay positive, but I found out my numbnes WAS due to a stroke they think I have has at least three. All reversable except the blind spots in both eyes.

BUT I CAN SEE   I know of one woman who lost all site in one of her eyes, so actually the blind spots are a blessing.I CAN STILL SEE..

      GOOD LUCK     Sandra      Smile

Jan, Community Member
9/15/09 4:27pm

I also experience what feels like numbness in the toes of both feet.  However I DO have feeling in my toes and can move them just fine.  I was diagnosed with RM this past May 09.  I was in terrible pain in about every joint of my body except my elbows.  When chiropractic treatment was not working, my chiro doctor sent me to a rheumatologist and that's when I was diagnosed.  He put me on prednisone for a bit and then gave me a prescription for Methotrexate.  I decided to see a medical/alternative doctor I had been told about.  He said he could help me.  He changed my meciation to hydrocortisone.  It is a natural hormone based steroid that is MUCH easier on the body than the mainstream medications normally used.  I have no more pain.  My doctor suspected that I am gluten intollerant.  After testing that it proved to be true.  So I am now on a gluten free diet which is really very appealing to me.  You can go to to learn more about that.  You can get the book "Breaking The Vicious Cycle" from your library and read how an unhealthy intestine can lead to RM.  I have had constipation problems for many years.  That's a BIG indiction of an unhealty intestine.  He also found that my thyroide was not working properly.  Hindsight tells me that it has not been working right for years!  That is now being treated.  I have much more energy.  I am pain free.  I am now taking half the medication I needed at the beginning. 


I do have very mild joint symptoms that feels like a burning sensation in some of my joints.  I do have some swelling in my right knee.  However, it's the numb feeling in my toes that has me curious.  (This is when I went to the internet, asked a question along this line and found all of you!) Also my toes can tend to cramp somewhat easily when I bend them the "wrong" way.  Yet, that kind of cramping happens less now.


I share all this with the hope that others of you will look for alternative ways to treat your RM.  IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO MANAGE IT.  Don't take that for granted.  If I didn't take the hydrocortisone, my joints would be very stiff and achey...and perhaps the pain would eventually return.  I would then be totally incapacited.  Unable to funtion. 


I have also resumed regular exercise.  VERY IMPORTANT!


I mentioned diet.  The point of the diet is to bring healing to my "gut" or intestinal tract.  I understand that this is where autoimmune problems can start.  An unhealthy intestinal tract that is not properly digesting to supply the body with the nutrients food is supposed to give it is a serious problem and can lead to many other kinds of diseases.  I highly suggest that you look into if you have any food allergies as I found I do (allergic to gluten).  I am also daily ingesting a probiotic called Kefir.  You can find this on the internet.  It helps to supply good bacteria to the intestinal tract...with the goal of overwhelming the bad bacteria to get rid of mucus or mucus-like substance that inhibits proper digestion.  And the right kind of diet (food intake) helps the intestinal tract to then digest properly.


I will be conversing with my doctor again next week to ask his opinion if what I am doing is helping to curtail the advancement of RM.  Honestly, I really don't know.  However, I do know this:  I am doing really well on this regime.  I am fully functional.  I have my life back!  I must also mention that my doctor encouraged me to read "Safe Uses of Cortisol", the medication I'm on.  I encourage you to get the read too.  I got it thru my local library.  Though it's technical in nature, it is quite understandable to for the layman read.  Hydrocortisone is a safe drug when used properly at low physiological doses.  And that's what I'm on.  Praise the Lord for how He has led me thus far!!!!


I do hope this helps somebody!

andybean, Community Member
2/ 1/10 9:06pm

Jan, can you say who your doctor is and where he practices? It's rare that a doctor today recommends Safe Uses of Cortisol (a great book). He sounds like a good doctor.

Jan, Community Member
2/ 1/10 11:04pm

My medical/alternative doctor is Dr. Geoffrey Bouc.

Bouc Family Wellness Ctr

Beloit, WI


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By shannonlee, Community Member— Last Modified: 11/07/13, First Published: 02/18/09