Studies say Rheumatoid Arthritis, Stomach Issues Go Hand in Hand

Hands Deformed From Rheumatoid ArthritisPeople with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) experience gastrointestinal problems, due to heightened inflammation and weaker immunity, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

RA medications and smoking tobacco also contribute to the tummy problems. These risk factors can be eliminated by simply switching to alternative drugs and quitting the habit, although other things contribute to gastrointestinal issues.

Risk Factors

Fibromyalgia serves as another likely factor for stomach problems among people with RA. As much as 30% of them develop the condition, which involves pain in the abdominal area, bloating and irritable bowel syndrome or spastic colon.

A study of microbiota could further provide more knowledge about the occurrence of gastrointestinal problems for RA patients. The University of Utah Genetic Science Learning Center said that microbiota comprises bacteria, fungi and viruses, which may be present in the mouth and intestines. Any new developments could complement existing solutions such as an arthroscopy in Provo.

Side Effects

The Arthritis Foundation cited a 2011 study that showed a 66% rate of constipation cases among most RA patients. It indicated that the stomach issue could be a result of an imbalance of bacteria in the intestines. Researchers suspect that any changes in the normal composition of bacteria play a significant role.

People without RA also have a 70% less chance of developing upper or lower stomach problems, as opposed to RA patients, according to another study in 2012. RA occurs when your immune system starts to produce cytokines, which are a type of protein. These lead to tissue inflammation on joint areas and other organ systems.


The process of treating RA continues to evolve, although stomach issues associated with it may persist for now. Patients can do their part to alleviate any existing problems by avoiding smoking, limit the use of corticosteroids and maintain a healthy diet.