Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may vary from person to person. Even though rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint condition but there are several other issues that a person suffering from this disease might face. In this autoimmune disease, a person’s immune system starts attacking itself which causes inflammation in joints, skin, eyes, nervous system, lungs and heart. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of arthritis found in people from the age of 35 years old, and women are three times(3X) more likely to suffer from this disease than men.
In rheumatoid arthritis, a person experiences intense joint pain on both sides as it is a symmetrical disease which means that if a joint on one side is inflamed then the joint on the other side gets inflamed too. It most frequently attacks the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, knees, and ankles. ⅔ of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis have wrist and hand problems and 90% of patients develop symptoms in the foot and ankle.
Here are some of the common signs of arthritis which might help in diagnosing the disease-
- Joint Inflammation: Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily a joint disease in which extreme inflammation in joints can cause problems like swelling, pain, and tenderness. It can cause extreme stiffness in affected joints, especially in the morning. It is a symmetric disease which means that if a joint on one side of the body is inflamed then the joint on the other side also gets affected. When the disease is active, the affected joint can become extremely red, swollen, painful, and tender because the tissue lining the joint(synovium) becomes inflamed, and as the joint capsule is inflamed, it produces excessive joint fluid(synovial fluid). If rheumatoid arthritis is left without treatment, it can cause structural changes and deformity in joints which may lead to restricted movement and disability.
- Skin Inflammation: Even though skin inflammation is not a common arthritis symptom found in people but one-quarter of people suffering from the disease find painless lumps developed under their skin. Although the cause of these lumps(also known as rheumatoid nodules) is unknown, some research shows that they may occur due to inflammation of the small blood vessels under the skin, and the size of these rheumatoid nodules(lumps) can range in size from as small as a pea to as large as a walnut.
- Nervous System: The inflammation and swelling of joints may compress the nearby nerves which most commonly affects the hands, wrists, and ankles and can result in weakness and the sensation of pins and needles. Research shows that 60% of people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis suffer from intense pain in wrists, hands, and ankles due to compressed nerves.
- Inflammation in eyes and lungs: Even though it is not very common but some rheumatoid arthritis patients face problems like dry eyes, and chest pain with deep breathing, shortness of breath or coughing. These are caused due to inflammation around the eyes and lining of the lung (called pleuritis).
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease which means that it takes years to treat it entirely, and most people experience intermittent periods of intense disease activity and periods of having no symptoms at all. However, it is important to get an early diagnosis for arthritis prevention and treatment can prevent irreversible joint damage, organ damage, and disability.