Today, over 20% of adults in USA are afflicted by a form of arthritis, with only 40% having checked up with their doctor and diagnosed the illness. People are lenient to get that extra visit to the physician, because they don’t regard their symptoms as something critical: most of them say they only had minor pain or discomfort once a week or so, which they directed towards exhaustion, age or excess exercise. Such an approach proves to be extremely dangerous, as those minor symptoms may grow into severe problems at later stages of the disease, sometimes leading to permanent damage and disability. It is very important to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (or any other type of arthritis) at an early stage. That way, the disease can be safely stopped, and complete remission is very likely.
Before we present several basic facts to help you identify rheumatoid arthritis, let us first get the general idea of what RA actually is.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which forces the body’s immune system to attack the joint tissues, resulting in painful sensations and inflammation of the latter. RA can afflict any joint in a human body, mirroring its effect on both sides of the body (e.g. both right and left hand or foot joints will be affected). Most commonly, RA affects arms and legs, less frequently the spine and other joints. In rare cases it may also cause damage to non-joint tissues, such as eyes, blood, lungs, and the heart. An inflammated joint, afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis, can produce swelling, stiffness, warmth and mild to severe pain sensations. With further progression of the disease the joint may lose its shape, limiting or completely disabling its move ability.
The best and by far the most effective way to determine if you have rheumatoid arthritis, is a visit to the doctor. However, if you wish to have an understanding of what symptoms usually relate to RA, we have compiled a list of the most common of them. If you experience 1 or more of the mentioned symptoms for prolonged periods of time, it is strongly advised that you consult your doctor as soon as possible. Even if you buy rheumatoid arthritis medications to get rid of the symptoms, the core of the problem will still remain.
Although rheumatoid arthritis is often regarded to as a chronic disease, the severity and duration of symptoms may change with an unpredictable rate or pattern. A person may experience prolonged periods of increased disease activity (flares) followed by complete or partial disappearance of most symptoms.
If several of these symptoms persist, you should immediately contact your doctor:
- Pain in joints when lifting objects or exercising.
- Unnatural stiffness and pain in the joints after sleep, lasting for 1 hour or more.
- Persisting joint inflammation (warmth, redness, pressure from inside the joints) in fingers, wrists, shoulders, neck, hips, elbows, knees, ankles, or feet.
- If the inflammation persists in joints on both sides of the body, e.g. both hands or both feet.
- Constant fatigue, exhaustion, sudden body temperature elevation or fever.