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What Is the Connection between Sarcoidosis and Arthritis?

By Steven Symes
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Both sarcoidosis and arthritis can cause joint pain in patients, making simple movements uncomfortable. Rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis share some similar characteristics, and some theorize that a connection may exist. Little is known about the cause of sarcoidosis and arthritis. Both rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis are caused by the body’s immune system attacking body tissues, causing the breakdown of cartilage and other materials in the bones’ joints.

Chronic joint pain may be caused by sarcoidosis and arthritis. Some patients who suffer from sarcoidosis may, however, only suffer from temporary joint pain, which comes and goes on its own. With sarcoidosis, lumps grow in a person’s joints, leading to joint pain. When a person suffers from rheumatoid arthtritis, the condition wears down the person’s cartilage and meniscus, which also leads to joint pain.

What causes a person to develop rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis is still a mystery to health care professionals. Some researchers theorize that both sarcoidosis and arthritis are genetic or are inherited from one or both parents. Other theories about the cause of both conditions point toward a specific substance or substances a person is exposed to in the surrounding environment, which trigger either sarcoidosis or arthritis.

Sarcoidosis and arthritis both involve an immune system response which leads to cell inflammation. When a person has sarcoidosis, the body’s immune system sends white blood cells to isolate the tissues the immune system has identified as foreign or harmful. The white blood cells introduce chemicals to the joints, leading to inflammation and pain. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis experience joint pain when the immune system also attacks the joints and other body tissues.

Treatments for sarcoidosis and arthritis both focus on easing any joint paint or other inflammation caused by the condition. A variety of drugs are available to help ease the pain of people suffering from either condition. Currently, there is no cure for either rheumatoid arthritis or sarcoidosis.

Despite the similarities between the two conditions, sarcoidosis and arthritis do differ in their symptoms and sometimes in their treatment. Most people who experience sarcoidosis have only mild symptoms. The symptoms of sarcoidosis may come and go over time as the inflammation disappears on its own. Lumps of cells caused by sarcoidosis may even stop increasing in size or even shrink on their own.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, does not go away by itself over time. In fact, if rheumatoid arthritis is not treated, it can cause bodily deformities. If treated with medication, rheumatoid arthritis patients can continue functioning. With extreme cases, rheumatoid arthritis may only be treatable with surgery.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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