Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a progressive, long term autoimmune disease which causes swelling, pain, and inflammation in and around body joints and other organs. The condition occurs when the immune system of the person starts accidentally targeting body joint linings known as the synovium. This results in an inflammation that thickens the synovium and eventually destroys the bones and cartilage within the joints. At first, RA usually affects the hands and feet of the patient, and eventually moves to other joints and organs. Note that RA often affects the same joints on both sides of the body the person. Even though this chronic inflammatory disease mainly affects joints, it can also affect other body organs just as well.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the joint linings of the patient, causing painful inflammation that can eventually lead to bone deformity or bone erosion. Unfortunately, even though there are many treatment options to cure this health condition, people suffering from severe RA are likely to experience pain even after successful treatment. Below are some of the key indicators or rheumatoid arthritis. If you experience any of these, it is imperative to consult a doctor right away.
- Warm, tender, and swollen joints
- Joint stiffness, especially in the mornings
- Loss of appetite
As mentioned earlier, RA is likely to affect the smaller joints such as the finger joints, toe joints, etc. at first. Gradually, as the health condition progresses, the symptoms would spread to the wrists, ankles, knees, elbows, shoulders, and hips of the affected person. However, many studies in the health field claim that around 40% of people suffering from RA experience pain and swelling at non-joints as well, and some of those structures include the following.
- Nerve tissues
- Salivary glands
- Blood vessels
- Bone marrow
The severity and frequency of these symptoms occurring may vary in different people. However, the disease follows a pattern in most cases: the increased disease activity period known as flares will be followed by relatively remitted periods when the pain and swelling tend to disappear. Still, the health condition may shift joints out of place over time. If you’re experiencing pain associated with what you suspect to be Rheumatoid arthritis or your symptoms line up with the ones outlined above, seeking the help of a Rheumatologist at an affordable health clinic is your best bet for swift treatment.