Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that can affect your mobility and your lifestyle. This autoimmune disorder begins with little signs that progress rapidly. It is essential to detect the early warning Rheumatoid arthritis signs and consult your doctor as soon as possible.
RA is an autoimmune disorder which occurs when the body’s defense mechanism—the immune system starts to malfunction. The immune system, which is supposed to defend the body against foreign organisms, turns against the body itself. It begins to see certain healthy body cells and tissues as invasive substances and begins to destroy them.
In Rheumatoid arthritis, the problem begins when the immune system begins to attack the synovium. The synovium is a lining of soft tissue, which protects the joints, bursae, and tendon sheaths. The synovial membrane covers the entire inner surface of the joints, except where the cartridge provides a lining.
In RA, the immune system perceives the synovial cells as an enemy and initiates inflammation in these tissues. This results in inflammation of the joints, redness, tenderness, and pain. The synovium thickens and eventually, affects the surrounding bones and cartilage, destroying them too. As the condition progresses, the strain put on the ligaments and tendons weakens them. They stretch and bend, and the joints also become misaligned and deformed.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the patients in bouts. There are periods when the disease is very much obvious with pain, swelling, and stiffness. These active periods are called flares. Then the disease enters a period of quiet inactivity when there is no obvious swelling, and there is less pain, and discomfort. This period is known as remissions.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Signs
You can detect several early signs of the disease. Though many of these are common to other forms of arthritis, and other diseases, if you detect the Rheumatoid arthritis signs, go for a medical checkup at once. Early diagnosis of this disease might help to control it better.
Have a look at the rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms.
You may feel fatigued for no reason, with no accompanying symptoms like swelling or pain. This feeling of exhaustion might come on each day, or you may experience it a few times every week.
- Joint Swelling and Pain
The early stages of RA typically target smaller joints like the joints of the hands, fingers, and toes. Swollen fingers and toes can be extremely painful. It makes your life difficult because even common tasks like picking up a spoon, or even stretching your fingers, become impossible.
- Morning Stiffness
In all forms of arthritis, patients often feel stiff and unable to move easily, when they wake up. However, in these forms, the stiffness wears away as you begin to move. In Rheumatoid arthritis, this stiffness can last for hours.
- Symmetric Swelling and Pain
You may notice that both sides of your body are similarly affected. For instance, if you have pain in your left hand, there is a pain in a similar region in your right hand. This may not always be true, but it is a common symptom in RA.
- Joint Tenderness
You may notice tenderness in the affected area. This is because the inflammation stretches the skin capillaries and makes them very sensitive and painful. Even a slight touch of your fingers in the region can cause redness and pain.
- Mild Inflammations
Mild joint swellings are early signs of Rheumatoid arthritis. You may just think that your joints appear a bit larger than they usually do. They may also be tender to the touch and feel warm. Joint warmth is another early warning of the onset of Rheumatoid arthritis. This rheumatoid arthritis sign should be given attention before it damages the function of the body.
A slight fever can accompany joint swelling and pain. The fever is often very low, does not cross 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If you notice this kind of fever along with joint pain, tiredness, and a loss of appetite, fix an appointment with your doctor.
Some Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis
While medical science is yet to pinpoint a definite trigger that initiates the autoimmune disorder, certain factors can put you at risk for RA:
- Your Age
Older people are at a higher risk for RA. However, for some people, the onset of RA can start as early as, in your forties.
- Your Gender
If you are a woman, you could be more vulnerable to the disease.
- Environmental Factors
Certain factors like dust, pollution, toxins in the environment where you work, can increase the chances for a person to suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis.
If you smoke, you not only increase the risk for RA, you also put yourself at risk, for a more severe form of the disease.
- RA Runs in Your Family
If there is a history of other people suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis in your family, you have the higher risk of getting the disease.
Excess weight has a link with this disease. It increases the chances of you suffering from RA in your middle age.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a crippling, very painful condition. As the disease progresses, it can affect even those organs of your body that are not joints, like heart and lungs, putting your life at risk. So, it is highly essential that you learn to spot Rheumatoid arthritis signs very early and begin treatment to avoid complications in the future.