Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
DISCLAIMER: The advice suggested in this article is not a substitute for actual medical treatment. Readers who are dealing with more severe symptoms of this disease should consult with a medical professional.
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis people are afflicted with. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and the function of the condition set it apart from other parts of arthritis. Over a million people are sufferers of this condition, which makes understanding it more important.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition. The immune system mistakes the tissue attached to joints as foreign. The immune system attacks the synovium tissue. This specific tissue is responsible for producing the fluid that lubricates cartilage in the joints. Attacking the synovium causes a thickening of the joints, which in turn causes pain and stiffness.
Joint inflammation caused by RA can be problematic, particularly if it is left untreated. The chronic inflammation leads to damaged cartilage. Eventually the joints suffer damage. Bones will erode, and joint deformities begin. The goal is to use medications that aid in lessening symptoms and reducing the amount of permanent damage that can occur. RA cannot be cured, but it can be put into remission.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Differs from Other Types
Any type of arthritis involves joint inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and function differentiate it from other forms of arthritis. Unlike other types, RA is an autoimmune condition. The body is essentially attacking its own healthy tissue, whereas other forms do not have this component. Additionally, RA typically targets all joints on both sides of the body equally. It most commonly affects the hands, knees, feet, and wrists. In some cases, other parts of the body can be affected such as the eyes, lungs, and heart.
People Affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Over one million people in America have RA. It tends to affect more woman than men. Adult women between the ages of 30 and 60 are the largest group. For men, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms often begin after age 60. Although the chances of developing RA are higher if there is a family history, heredity is not generally the only determining factor. Other risk factors include obesity and environmental exposures.
Common Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
In the beginning, symptoms include joint stiffness and pain in smaller joints such as knuckles and toes. As the condition worsens, larger joints are affected including the ankles, elbows, hips, and knees. Some sufferers may also experience tingling or numbness in their hands and locked joints. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms will occur in waves called flare ups.
Early Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Common early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are fatigue, joint pain, joint tenderness, limping, smaller range of motion, and even anemia. If you start experiencing some of these early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, talk to your doctor. The earlier you’re aware of your arthritis, the better you can handle your diagnosis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing RA can be difficult in the beginning stages. A doctor will ask about symptoms and check for inflammation and redness. Inflamed joints typically feel warm to the touch. Blood tests and x-rays may also be performed. Recommended medications depend on the severity of RA symptoms. NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, and corticosteroids can reduce pain and inflammation. Antirheumatic drugs can reduce progression and damage.
There is currently no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. Managing the symptoms and reducing the damage is the key to ensuring sufferers experience as little trouble as possible. Proper testing and monitoring by a doctor is necessary to ensure there are more remission days than flare up days.