Early Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis that Shouldn't be Ignored
Rheumatoid Arthritis Signs and Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis or what is commonly mentioned as RA is an autoimmune condition, which occurs when our body’s immune system mistakenly acts against its own tissues and joints. As a result, it will lead to pain and inflammation.
Those who have rheumatoid arthritis will agree with us that it is a progressive disease because RA can get worse within time. Without sufficient treatment, it can lead to several problems all over the body. In severe cases, the inflammation caused by RA can damage the internal organs and blood vessels, thereby leading to serious complications. With the passage of time, the risk of developing complications from rheumatoid arthritis will keep increasing.
This is why it’s important to identify the disease at the early stages and get treated adequately. If left untreated, you will have to see yourself at the risk of developing several complications. Read the following article to know the early signs and symptoms of RA.
Take Notice of the Following Early Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis:
As you might already be aware, the major symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are joint pain and stiffness. However, even before these symptoms occur, you can experience some early signs. Noticing these warning signs will help you seek treatment at the earliest. Let’s take a look at those signs here:
Before noticing any other sign, an individual with rheumatoid arthritis will feel extremely tired. He/she will experience a lack of energy and feel depressed. The feelings of fatigue may also impact his/her day-to-day activities, sexual life, relationships, and productivity. Fatigue may indicate that your body is reacting to the inflammation in your joints.
Inflammation linked to rheumatoid arthritis can cause you to feel slightly feverish. You may have a raised temperature, which may accompany fatigue. These signs will usually be followed by the noticeable effects on your joints.
Another warning sign of rheumatoid arthritis is the unexplained loss of weight. This is possibly due to the indirect effect of inflammation in your joints. When you are feeling fatigued and feverish, you may lose your appetite, which can cause you to lose weight.
This is another early sign and can occur in a couple of small joints, usually in the fingers. It can set on slowly but will last for several days. Besides the stiffness that is felt in the joints, a general stiffness can be felt in the body when you have RA. This will usually be noticed in a person after he/she has been still for a long duration, especially in the mornings (morning stiffness). This is the characteristic symptom of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Joint pain that is felt in the fingers, wrists, and/or feet is a possible sign of rheumatoid arthritis. This may be due to the inflammation, which will make the lining of the joints thicker and also cause the synthesis of additional joint fluid. These will put pressure on the capsule that encircles the joint and inflames the nerve endings, thus leading to pain.
A joint tenderness that is felt in the hands and feet is a possible early sign of rheumatoid arthritis. In your hands, you can see that the joint in the middle and at the base of your fingers are tender when pressed and moved; and in your feet, you can see that the base of your toes is tender.
Joints that are swollen in the hands and feet are a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. This symptom will be more apparent as the disease progresses. However, subtle swelling is an early sign.
Inflammation in your joints may cause redness. Also, discoloration of the skin surrounding the joints in your hands and/or feet is an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
Again, inflammation will cause warmth and this sign is known to present before redness and swelling occur.
Numbness and tingling that affect the hands and/or feet are the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms are due to the inflammation that can lead to nerve compression, resulting in the loss sensation.
Reduced range of motion:
In the initial stages of rheumatoid arthritis, you can notice you are having trouble bending your wrist. Over time, the damage to your joints may affect ligaments and tendons, thus making it harder for you to bend and straighten them.
Note that limping can be caused by several diseases of the nerves, muscles, and/or bones of the lower body. But, limping is frequently noted in the people with rheumatoid arthritis that affects the hip, knee, ankle, or feet. As it sounds obvious, pain, a decreased range of motion, and joint swelling all can cause you to have a noticeable limp.
Joint deformities can be caused by RA. It’s because the untreated inflammation can lead to erosion of cartilage and bone and ligament loosening. Therefore, early identification and treatment of RA are critical to prevent joint deformities.
Loss of Joint Function:
As RA would cause pain, swelling, tenderness, and others that are related to joints, there may be a loss of joint function. Over time, this loss of joint function can result in:
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of grip
- Loss of dexterity
The chronic inflammation related to RA can cause the bone marrow to reduce the supply of RBCs into the bloodstream. Thus, it may lead to anemia.
While the above-mentioned early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can help you to identify the disease at the earliest and get treated adequately, there are several assisted tools, such as cloth fasteners, adaptive utensils, reachers, wash mitt, small appliances, key holders, and many more that can help keep up your daily activities like a normal individual. While it’s important to get your RA treated as early as possible to avoid the risks of complications, it’s equally important to start living with the condition. It will be possible only if you could stay on the top of the condition, symptoms, and potential signs. For it’s you who knows your body better than anybody else!