Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints. Although it shares some symptoms with osteoarthritis, the type of arthritis that usually occurs in older people due to wear and tear on joints, there are some key differences. Rheumatoid arthritis can attack at any age, can come on rapidly, and may be accompanied by many other symptoms.
Do you have RA?
RA can be tough to diagnose. Symptoms can mimic other illnesses, or they may burn, and then fade, only to blaze again somewhere else. Medical tests aren’t perfect—you can test negative for RA factors and still have it. And X-rays don’t show signs until later on.
Millions of people are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease thought to be caused by genetic and environmental factors.
There are other things that may affect RA risk and symptoms. These play relatively minor roles however there factors to keep in mind.
Here are symptoms and hints that are due to RA and not some other condition.
One factor that affects RA is smoking, it clearly has an impact—it makes it worse and increases the likelihood of getting it. Research indicates that
RA non-smokers have fewer swollen, painful joints than smokers.
RA smokers are three times as likely to have rheumatoid factor—a sign of more severe disease—and twice as likely to have joint damage.
Hard to heal injuries
It’s possible to think you have an injury—such as a sprained ankle that doesn’t seem to heal—when the symptoms are actually due to RA.
This is more common in younger people.
Numbness or tingling in the hands
One symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is marked by tingling in the wrist and hands. The sensation is comparable to the feeling you get when you hit your funny bone.
What happens is that the swelling in the arm squeezes the nerves going into the hands. This sensation can be often worse at night.
If you go to a doctor with these symptoms and don’t have other RA symptoms, you may be diagnosed only with carpal tunnel syndrome.
One area in which people often have RA-related pain or inflammation is the forefoot. Women often stop wearing heels and head to a podiatrist due to the pain.
Some people with RA may also develop pain in the heel because of plantar fascitis, a common foot disorder caused by swelling of the tissue at the bottom of the foot, near the heel.
People with RA are also have possibility of developing Sjogrens syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that can cause dryness of the eyes, mouth, nose, throat, or skin due to inflammation that stops glands from releasing moisture.
This can happen even in the early stages of RA, but it’s unlikely to be the only symptom.
Pairs of achy joints
One of the most predominant symptoms is aching in the joints. People often think their pain is due to overexertion or osteoarthritis.
These aches can also be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. Fatigue is yet another symptom.
RA joint pain is not transitory; it usually lasts longer than a week. It can also be proportioned, implicating that hands, feet, knees, or ankles may be affected at the same time.
Another characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis is stiffness in the joints in the morning.
Again, this is also a common problem in osteoarthritis, which can cause pain after long periods of inactivity, like sleeping.
The difference between the two is that osteoarthritis pain usually settles in about a half hour. Stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis will last much longer.
The right kind of exercise can help alleviate stiffness for people with RA and osteoarthritis pain.
People with RA can sometimes experience frozen joints, mainly in the knees and elbows. This occurs for the reason that there is a great deal swelling around the tendons, the joint cannot move. It can lead to cysts behind the knee that can swell and inhibit movement.
Unfortunately, the symptom can also be mistaken for a meniscus tear, a knee-joint injury that’s common in sports, and which can also lead to cysts.
These are solid lumps that grow under the skin near the affected joints. They often appear at the back of the elbows, and sometimes people get them in the eyes. They’re more common in people who have advanced rheumatoid arthritis.