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What Causes Edema In Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients?

Intermittent Peripheral Edema


Updated June 27, 2014

Question: What Are Possible Causes of Intermittent Edema in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients?

Peripheral edema (an abnormal buildup of fluids) in the ankles, feet, legs, and calves can be an associated symptom of rheumatoid arthritis. What are possible causes of intermittent edema in a person with rheumatoid arthritis?


Intermittent ankle swelling in rheumatoid arthritis is common and most likely occurs as a result of active inflammatory synovitis. Rheumatoid arthritis vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) with peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves) is also a consideration. Swelling of the ankle and calf may represent phlebitis (inflammation of a vein) or blockage of the lymphatic system (lymphedema), torn calf muscle with bleed, as well as other general medical conditions i.e. heart failure and kidney disease.

Editor note: Since edema can be a symptom of many serious medical problems, it is important to be evaluated by your doctor to determine the cause.

Answer provided by the late Dr. Raymond Federman, a respected rheumatologist.

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