While there are many types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is very common and affects women more than men. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects not only the joints but also other parts of the body. In RA, you can notice the symptoms of arthritis in addition to other complaints. If you know the RA symptoms, you can help yourself and seek timely medical advice.
Here are some RA symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks its own cells and sets an inflammatory reaction. Hence, the affected area gets inflamed. This is noted in the joints, which leads to symptoms of arthritis and can also be seen in the arteries, lungs or blood vessels. A CRP test assess the occurrence of inflammation.
Joint pain is one of the commonest rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, mainly a result of inflamed joints. It usually begins with small joints like wrists, fingers and toes but can also affect the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows. Affected joints are painful with restricted movements. The inflamed joints appear red, are often warm and tender to touch. If you experience locked joints due to swollen tendons, you can suspect rheumatoid arthritis.
Joint pain is often associated with joint swelling in rheumatoid arthritis. There may be minor joint swelling, which makes the joints appear puffy or slightly bigger than normal. Most joint problems in rheumatoid arthritis are symmetrical; present in the same joints on both the sides of your body.
Joint stiffness, which is one of the common symptoms of arthritis, is also noted in rheumatoid arthritis. The joints in RA are creakier and produce sounds on movement. The joint stiffness is usually seen after waking up in the morning and after a long period of inactivity. The morning stiffness which lasts for long or more than half an hour is a typical RA symptom.
Extreme or unusual fatigue is another important rheumatoid arthritis symptom. Fatigue may precede other symptoms or may be experienced after the joints are exerted. People suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis have flare-ups or worsening of symptoms, especially when there is active inflammation. Fatigue is noted the most during this period.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect nerves or swollen tissues can cause nerve compression. Hence, numbness and tingling are common RA symptoms, usually noted in the hands and feet. If you experience unusual or burning sensation in hands or feet, it could be inflamed tendons and joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the eyes too, including dryness of eyes, itching, increased irritation, oversensitivity to light and sometimes vision problems. It also increases the risk of Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes dryness in the eyes, nose, mouth and skin.
Slow healing injuries
Another common problem faced by people with rheumatoid arthritis is slow healing tissues. While injuries are common in people with rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation of blood vessels and nerves can make healing difficult. Muscles, nerves and tissues or even skin ulcers may take more time to heal.
Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly associated with low-grade fever. As there is mild inflammation in the joints or other tissues, the body reacts with fever. The fever in RA is mild and not more than 100 centigrade; high fever may indicate an infection.
Nodules are one of the most important and almost definitive rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. These are noticed as hard lumps of tissue under the skin. However, the nodules under the skin are usually seen in advanced stages, but should not be ignored at all.
If the lung tissue gets inflamed, symptoms like chest pain, breathing difficulty and cough may be experienced. Apart from these RA symptoms, other signs may include dryness of mouth, oversensitive skin, anaemia, difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and sometimes weight loss.
Never ignore these symptoms. Based on this you can seek a medical opinion, which can help confirm the diagnosis.
Know what to do next
The most important parameter is the presence of rheumatoid factor in people having rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor may advise from a range of blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis, which determines inflammation and autoimmune conditions. The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis depends on a combination of factors, which your doctor will assess, including the symptoms, the pattern of joint problems, the blood test reports and presence of rheumatoid factor.
Timely diagnosis can help you get the right treatment, which can protect your health. A healthy diet, regular exercises and physical activity are helpful in managing rheumatoid arthritis. Physical therapy, yoga and stress management techniques too help in managing rheumatoid arthritis in addition to the prescribed medications.
But the first step is to pay attention to your complaints and get them evaluated. Begin treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in time and prevent further damage.
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