Did You Know the Early Signs & Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?

Contributed by: Anjali Sharma

Introduction

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease indicated by constant joint inflammation.

RA generally starts slowly, with minor symptoms appearing and disappearing on both sides of the body. These symptoms might take weeks or even months to appear.

The symptoms of this chronic illness differ from person to person and might alter over time.

Joint pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of RA. A person can also experience several early warning indications before these symptoms appear.

Some of these early warning signs are general, while others are unique to the joints. Joint disorder symptoms are more likely to indicate RA, especially if more than one joint or both sides of the body are afflicted.

Early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Detecting the warning alerts can assist patients in seeking treatment as soon as possible. The following are some early symptoms of RA:

Fatigue

The human body requires a good amount of energy to fight inflammation. You might experience fatigue and tiredness while doing everyday chores.

If this state of fatigue lasts more than a week or a few weeks then you might be suffering from RA. Fatigue also can make you feel weak and depressed, thus removing your interest in day-to-day activities, even the ones you love doing the most. 

Fever

A person affected by RA can have low-grade fever as an early sign. Fever is caused by the inflammation of the joints, or by a weak immune system. It is advised to contact a doctor in case of a persistent fever over 101°F.

Morning stiffness

This is one of the telltale symptoms of RA and various other types of arthritis.

You may be experiencing a RA flare-up if particular joints feel tight when you first wake up and the stiffness lasts longer than 30 minutes.

Joints are prone to becoming more mobile after extended exercise.

Swelling and redness of joints

Rheumatoid arthritis damages the lining or cartilage of your joints, causing them to appear red and warm to the touch as the inflammation flares up.

The inflammation causes the blood vessels in the surrounding skin to expand, which results in redness.

More blood flows into this area because the veins are wider, giving the skin a crimson colour.

Limited range of motion

In the very initial or early stage of RA, the person may experience difficulty in bending back and rotating the wrist.

If this symptom is untreated for a long time then you may find yourself unable to bend or straighten some joints.

As the symptom increases the damage to the joints, it can further affect ligaments and tendons, making it hard to bend and straighten.

Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis

If you are experiencing joint pain for more than six weeks on both the sides of the joints with early joint swelling and morning stiffness then you are most likely suffering from RA.

The complete diagnosis will be done clinically but these symptoms can be examined on a personal level so that the diagnosis becomes easy and clear. 

Specific blood tests will be performed, including blood counts, liver and kidney functions, and inflammatory markers like CRP/ESR, which can be elevated in 60 per cent of patients.

Rheumatoid factor and antiCCP are two specific tests for RA.

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

RA should be treated at an early stage which contains mainly disease-modifying antirheumatic medications (DMARDs) like Hydroxychloroquine, Methotrexate or Sulfasalazine. The doctor may prescribe a short course of steroids and NSAIDs.

Impact of not treating RA at an early stage?

If you do not report your early signs to the doctor as soon as they begin, then it becomes impossible to successfully treat RA.

Delays in therapy result in a continuous inflammatory condition in the body, causing abnormalities in the joints as well as the involvement of other organs such as the lungs, nerves, eyes, skin, and kidneys. Early detection is crucial.

Final thoughts

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder which mainly affects joints. 

It is important to know the symptoms at an early stage so that the correct diagnosis can be achieved.

We have listed the critical early-stage symptoms of RA so that you can take action accordingly. 

To prevent the worsening of the symptoms and to reduce the impact of arthritis, you should undergo an early diagnosis upon experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms.

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Source: HEALTHIANS