As you know, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the joints, but a subset of people with RA say
that it can also take a toll on a very important organ: the brain. They describe feeling forgetful, unable to concentrate and gripped by the “blahs.” In other words, they say that rheumatoid arthritis gives them an unshakable case of brain fog.
Brain fog isn’t a medical term, but doctors have long recognized that patients with certain physical conditions (such as lupus and multiple sclerosis) can experience cognitive dysfunction, or the diminished ability to think, learn, remember and perform other mental tasks. Not all doctors who treat rheumatoid arthritis are convinced that brain fog represents an important concern for their patients. Yet recent research offers clues that diseases featuring chronically elevated inflammation, such as RA, may hinder healthy brain performance.
“I see it all the time,” says Marian Rissenberg, PhD, a neuropsychologist who works with patients coping with cognitive problems at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. “These people are not malingerers.”