Joints but specifically the synovial is the most important target in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) yet the disease is a systemic inflammatory disorder where extraarticular manifestations are common. Among extraarticular organs and systems affected by RA, central and peripheral nervous system involvement is frequent and associated with significant morbidity and, in some cases, reduced life span. It may produce a myriad of symptoms and signs ranging from subtle numbness in a hand, to quadriparesis and sudden death. Central and peripheral neurologic damage may arise from structural damage produced by RA in diarthroidal joints, by the systemic inflammatory process of the disease itself or by the drugs used to treat it. Neurologic syndromes in these patients may appear suddenly or developed slowly through months, and emerge early or after years of having RA. Neurologic manifestations may be easily overlooked or incorrectly assigned to peripheral arthritis unless the attending physician is aware of these complications. In this article, we review neurologic involvement in RA patients with emphasis on clinical approach for early detection.
Keywords: Rheumatoid arthritis, entrapment neuropathies, compression neuropathies, dysautonomia, noncompressive neuropathies, drug toxicity