Welcome to the first in an ongoing series of blog posts into the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. This in turn is part of an informational series which we hope over time with cover the main issues associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
One of the reasons I want to cover this area in more detail is that my grandmother suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis for many years. Her life, I believe, could have been much easier if there was greater awareness of the realities of RA.
As you may know the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis come in to three main categories: –
a) Symptoms affecting the joints,
b) Systemic symptoms or those symptoms which impact the whole body
c) Other symptoms affecting specific organs.
Today we will focus our attention on joint symptoms. Which are the most common symptoms (and indeed sign) of rheumatoid arthritis or RA; as it is often called.
Just by way of information a joint id defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “A structure in the human or animal body at which two parts of the skeleton are fitted together.”
The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is stiff painful and swollen joints. Typically these develop over time in joints on both sides of the body. In many cases the joints of the hands or feet are affected first. Often other joints are affected which include knees, elbows, wrists and shoulders among others.
The pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis is often described as “deep and aching”.
Often at its worst after periods of rest (i.e. after a long drive or waking from sleep). It can be helps by gently moving the affected joint. Disrupted sleep is common in people with RA because of regular waking due to pain. This is one of the causes of fatigue in RA patients.
In the morning, after sleep, the affected joints can also feel very stiff. This may last for some hours after waking. The time that the stiffness lasts is often used as an example of the difference between RA and osteoarthritis.
The joint inflammation means that they, the affected joints, become “swollen, red and hot”. As RA progresses both cartilage and bone are destroyed. This again limits mobility and in many cases leads to deformities.
One of the aims of blog posts like this is to give our readers the opportunity to share their stories and learn from the experiences of others in the rheumatoid arthritis community! To facilitate this it would be great if you would use the comments box below to talk about the symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis. You might care to think in terms of the following questions:-
a) Have you been diagnosed with RA? For how many years have you been diagnosed?
b) What were the first signs of rheumatoid arthritis?
c) What are now your main symptoms?
d) What one piece of advice would you give to somebody who think they may have RA?