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Cellulitis and RA

Good Morning. I was recently diagnosed with RA (in the last 90 days). I have swelling, stiffness, and pain in my feet, ankles and hands. Along with each flare up I also develop a hard lump just below my knee usually the size of a small orange. It is followed by swelling and redness. My GP and Rheumatologist both diagnosed this as phlebitis. I was sent for ultrasounds to eliminate the diagnosis of blood clots then sent to a vascular surgeon. The surgeon said it is not phlebitis but probably cellulitis and prescribed penicillin to take for several months. All Dr.'s agree not to start treatment for RA until the infection clears. I have been on this round of antibiotics for over 10 days and no sign of relief yet. Is it normal symptom of RA to have this infection or is this unrelated. Any help would be appreciated.

  1. Hi Jackie A! While I cannot offer medical advice online (for your safety), I will say that while cellulitis isn't a symptom of RA, it appears that since RA is an autoimmune condition, the body responds very uniquely sometimes to outside stimuli (like getting a vaccination) and cellulitis can occur. Also, some RA meds can increase your risk of developing cellulitis, which may be one reason your physicians are wanting to wait to start you on RA medications. Here is a personal story from one of our contributors about her bout of cellulitis -- So, while this may not be common, you are definitely not the only person with RA to have this issue as well! I hope this information is helpful for you and I really hope your start getting some relief very soon! Best, Erin, Team Member.

    1. Sorry to hear about your diagnosis JackieA, but glad you are reaching out to a community for information and support. In addition to the great information Erin provided concerning cellulitis and beginning RA medications, I just wanted to add that it is important to manage the stress and emotional aspects of receiving a new diagnosis. This article from our editorial team discusses this aspect of the diagnosis, with some tips: Know that you can count on the community here for support any (hopefully) useful information for any questions you have. In addition, if you haven't already, you may want to checkout the Facebook page at Keep us posted on your progress. Best, Richard ( Team)

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