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Could Hoarseness or Changing Voice Be Associated With Arthritis?

Cricoarytenoid Joints and Arthritis

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Updated June 27, 2014

Question: Can rheumatoid arthritis or any of the rheumatic diseases cause hoarseness or cause a voice to change? Can vocal cords become inflamed? Are there other reasons for hoarseness or voice change? Is it possible there is no connection between arthritis and voice problems?

Answer: Up to 30% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis may develop hoarseness. In most cases, this is not dangereous and is due to the arthritis involvement of the cricoarytenoid joints. Because these joints rotate with the vocal cords, they can affect the pitch and tone of the voice.

Should You See a Specialist?

In addition, they can uncommonly affect breathing if the joints become immobilized. If hoarseness is chronic, evaluation by an ENT (ear-nose-throat specialist) is worthwhile to help confirm that the problem is related to rheumatoid arthritis and not due to other causes. This is especially important for smokers.

Read More About Cricoarytenoid Joint

Sources:

Edward Harris M.D., Textbook of Rheumatology

Answer provided by Scott J. Zashin, M.D., clinical assistant professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Division of Rheumatology, in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Zashin is also an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas and Plano. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Rheumatology and a member of the American Medical Association. Dr. Zashin is author of Arthritis Without Pain - The Miracle of Anti-TNF Blockers and co-author of Natural Arthritis Treatment.

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