Pleural effusion a symptom of RA?

MattH Member Posts: 3
edited 21. Oct 2019, 07:58 in Chat to our Helpline Team
Hi all
So after a pretty rough 6 months it turns out I have RA. It’s been a steep learning curve and thanks to a great consultant, a couple of steroid jabs, and a prescription of DMARDs the joint pain is pretty much under control. I just get an occasional “reminder” from my wrists and feet.
HOWEVER this whole thing started in May with a pain in my chest. This has been diagnosed as a pleural effusion ( I understand this is the new name for pleurisy).
After 2 courses of antibiotics and living with shortness of breath for what seems like a lifetime the lung is still not right.
I’ve visited the pleural unit at hospital twice now and they don’t seem too worried about it. So my question is........Is this pleurisy connected to my RA and if so when can I expect my lung to recover in the same way my joints have? This pain in my chest every time I want to take a deep breath is getting a bit boring now!
Thank you in advance for any answers/comments.


  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 3,635
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi MattH and welcome to the Versus Arthritis forums.

    Sorry to hear its been a rough six months. It may well be that your pleurisy is connected to rheumatoid arthritis. RA is where something goes wrong with the immune system and it begins to attack healthy tissue.

    You can read a lot more about this on the NHS Inform website here:

    We also have an informative page on rheumatoid arthritis:

    The question as to when your lungs will recover is best asked of your doctor. I will be interested in reading any replies from members who have had similar experiences.

    Do let us know how you get on.

    Best wishes
  • MattH
    MattH Member Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Brynmor
    MANY THANKS for the reply and the links, that’s really useful.
    I have been walking a lot and doing a bit of running to get myself out of breath. It seems to be working on my chest. It already feels a bit easier. :D
    Thanks again for the reply.
  • helpline_team
    helpline_team Posts: 3,410
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi MattH, thanks for your message and a warm welcome to our Online Community. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a tough 6 months and struggling with the pleural effusion on top of everything.

    I can see our moderator has already replied with some useful links, and I might have a bit more information which you might find helpful.

    RA is a classed as a systemic disease, meaning that it doesn’t just affect our joints. In some cases, RA can affect a person’s whole system, including organs such as the lungs, heart and eyes due to inflammation in these areas. This inflammation can sometimes cause conditions like pleural effusion, where the tissue surrounding the lungs (known as the pleura) becomes inflamed and often is accompanied by a build-up of fluid. In many cases this condition can resolve itself and may not even present symptoms, although it sounds as though your lungs can be quite painful.

    It’s interesting that you mentioned your symptoms started with pain in your chest, as occasionally, lung problems can surface before the joint inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

    You might find that your DMARD treatment could help reduce the inflammation in your lungs, as they dampen down the overactivity of the immune system which causes the inflammation.

    You can read more about the link between RA and lung conditions here:

    You could also speak to the British Lung Foundation who have lots of information on lung conditions, and have a helpline too:

    The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society also have lots of information on RA:

    I hope this helps, and my best wishes to you,
    Jack – Helpline Advisor