Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints; this abnormal autoimmune response of the body can lead to permanent, painful changes in the joints.
Joint pain can be early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis; however, symptoms often develop slowly or gradually over a period of weeks or months or with a sudden severe attack of flu-like symptoms. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary from person to person. In some people the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis will be mild with periods of activity or joint inflammation (flare-ups) and inactivity (remissions). In other cases, rheumatoid arthritis can be continuously active and progressing over time. A person may feel weak and tired, low-grade fever or lose weight may occur, but joint pain will be the main problem. If these warning signs lasts more than a week, it is advisable to see a doctor.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The trait symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is morning stiffness that lasts for at least an hour. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are as follows:
Swelling and Pain
Inflammation and pain in the joints must occur for at least six weeks before diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is considered. The inflamed joints are usually swollen and often feel watery when touched. Depending on which hand the person uses more often, the pain occurs proportionally (symmetrical pattern) but may be more severe on one side of the body.
Specific Joints Affected
Pain in three or more joints at the same time, although rheumatoid arthritis almost always develops in wrists and knuckles, the knees and the joints of the ball of the foot are often affected as well. Many joints may be involved even causing the spine to become misaligned. Joints at the base of the fingers are often painful.
Appearance of Nodules
Inflammation of small blood vessels can cause nodules or lumps under the skin. Although they can show up anywhere, they are often located near the elbow and are about the size of a pea or slightly larger. These nodules do not often become sore or infected, but sometimes they do especially when they are located in areas where stress occurs, such as the ankles. Nodules can crop up throughout the course of the disease. Seldom, nodules can reflect the presence of rheumatoid vasculitis, which is a condition that can affect blood vessels in the lings, kidneys, and other organs.
Buildup of Fluid
Fluid may amass particularly in the ankles. In some cases, the joint sac behind the knee builds up fluid and forms what is known as a Baker cyst. The cyst feels like a tumor and sometimes extends down the back of the calf causing pain.
Fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss, and fever may come with early rheumatoid arthritis. These symptoms can be similar to those of a cold or flu, except that these symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can last for years.
Symptoms in Children
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also know as still’s disease is usually headed by high fever and shaking chills along with pain and swelling in many joints, a pink skin rash may also be present.
These symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis should not be taken lightly; early detection of the disease can prevent damage or deformity of the joints. If you suspect of having rheumatoid arthritis, consult your doctor immediately.
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