How is rheumatoid vasculitis treated?

Treatment depends upon the size of the vessel, the organs affected, and the overall severity of the vasculitis. Vasculitis involving the fingertips and skin around the fingernails, or that only causes a rash, is treated with pain control, antibiotic cream, and local protection. Many rheumatoid arthritis patients who experience this kind of vasculitis are not being effectively treated for their joint disease. Drugs that treat rheumatoid arthritis, can be started and often improve both the joint symptoms and the vasculitis.

Because more serious rheumatoid vasculitis is rare, studies comparing an active drug to an inactive material (placebo) have not been published. Treatment recommendations for vasculitis that causes nerve damage, skin ulcers, and damage to internal organs rely on descriptions of series of patients with vasculitis and your doctor's previous experience.

When this kind of vasculitis occurs, despite adequate treatment of joint disease, stronger treatments to control the immune system are used. When any of these treatments are used, very careful monitoring by a doctor is necessary.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/28/2019.

References

  • Vasculitis Foundation. Rheumatoid vasculitis. Accessed 2/28/2019.
  • Khasnis A, Langford CA, Update on Vasculitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;123:1226-36.
  • Vasculitis UK. About Vasculitis: Rheumatoid Vasculitis. Accessed 2/28/2019.

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