Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms
- Fatigue: Fatigue is very common for all stages of RA, as it can be a reaction to inflammation, poor sleep, anemia or medications.
- Joint Pain, Tenderness, Swelling, Redness: Due to the inflammation caused by RA, joints may become painfully tender and swollen.
- Joint Stiffness and Loss of Range of Motion: Because the fluid in your joints tends to thicken as a result of arthritis, you may lose a noticeable amount of movement in your affected joints.
- Multiple Joints Affected: Usually Rheumatoid Arthritis affects multiple joints in an affected person's body. Pain in a single joint may be due to injury or another issue. When four or more joints are inflamed, its referred to as polyarthritis. If a few joints are inflamed, it's referred to as oligoarthritis. And a single inflamed joint is called monoarthritis.
- Limping: Arthritis in lower body joints can cause limping. Although there are many possible causes for limping, if it is in conjunction with other arthritis symptoms, you may want to see your doctor.
- Joint Deformity: Chronic inflammation can cause a breakdown of your joints. Arthritis can cause erosion of cartilage and bones and ligament loosening. Treating arthritis early on can help prevent your joints from deforming.
- Loss of Joint Function: Pain, swelling and tenderness can make it difficult to use any of your joints affected by arthritis.
- Anemia: Chronic inflammation caused by arthritis can cause bone marrow to decrease the release of red blood cells into the circulation. This lowers the red blood cell count to cause anemia. After treatment and reducing inflammation, the anemia may spontaneously correct.
- Fever: Another impact of inflammation is a low-grade fever.
- Depression: While arthritis manifests itself physically, long-term pain and disability can lead to depression.
The symptoms and effects of RA may come and go. A period of high disease activity (increases in inflammation and other symptoms) is called a flare. A flare can last for days or months.
Ongoing high levels of inflammation can cause problems throughout the body. Here of some ways RA can affect organs and body systems:
- Eyes. Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
- Mouth. Dryness and gum irritation or infection
- Skin. Rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over bony areas
- Lungs. Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath
- Blood Vessels. Inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs
- Blood. Anemia, a lower than normal number of red blood cells
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author. This content has not been paid for by any advertiser nor does Answer.Expert recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. This article is provided for informational purposes only. Answer.Expert does not provide professional advice of any kind. You should seek guidance from your medical, financial, legal, or other professional representative with any questions you many have about your personal situation.