Can you explain why RA pain is felt in pairs on both sides of the body? Why does the same two fingers on my left hand mirror the pain and stiffness on the right hand. I know that all my RA pain is not necessarily felt just that way…sometimes my rt ankle swells and bothers me far more than the left. But my knuckle/finger pain and stiffness have a symmetrical pattern. What causes this? My dtr thinks it has to do with the nerves. But it’s my joints that ache.
This is a great question and no one really understands why RA is so symmetric (affecting the same joints on both sides of the body). Your doctor is right that it may be related to nerves. The nerves come down the spinal cord and split at each bone (vertebrae) level, one going to the right side and one going to the left. At the end of the nerves are chemicals that can be released into the joints to cause pain and swelling. We think that inflammation in the joints irritates the nerves to release more inflammatory chemicals, causing a viscious cycle. Since there are similar nerves on both sides, the chemicals are released to both sides.