Rheumatoid arthritis, RA, occurs when the immune system of a person attacks their joints, causing painful inflammation. What are the early signs of this condition?
RA typically affect the hands, wrists, and feet. The ability to identify early signs could lead to an early diagnosis and proper treatment. Timely intervention and management of RA can prevent joint damage.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the immune system. When a person’s immune system is healthy, it helps combat infection. In people with RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the lining of their joint, causing joint painful inflammation and stiffness. There is presently no cure for RA, but proper treatment and moderate exercise may help reduce flares. The joints, bones, and cartilages of the affected areas may become irreversibly damaged if rheumatoid arthritis is left untreated.
Early signs of Rheumatoid arthritis
Some people may experience early warning signs of RA. The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are joint pain and stiffness. Some of these warning signs relate to how a person generally feels, while others are specific to the joints. The early warning signs of RA include:
Unexplained weight loss is one of the early warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an indirect effect of inflammation.
Joint stiffness may affect one or two small joints, often in the fingers. It can come on slowly and last for several days. Also, a general feeling of stiffness in the body may be an early sign of RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with inflammation which may lead to feverish feeling. Some persons may have a slightly raised temperature, which is an early sign that sometimes go with fatigue.
A person with RA may lack energy before experiencing any other symptoms. They may also feel depressed. This feelings of exhaustion may affect their sex drive, relationships, every day’s chores, and even productivity at work. The constant feeling of fatigue may be due to the reaction of the body to inflammation in the joints.
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Joint tenderness that affects the hands and feet is an early sign of RA. In the hands, the joint in the middle and at the base of the fingers may feel tender when pressed or during movement. Also, the joints at the base of the toes may be tender, leading to discomfort which may cause people to walk on their heels.
Decrease in range of motion
Some persons may notice they are having trouble bending their wrist back and forth in the early stages of RA. The joint disease may cause damage to the joints can affect ligaments and tendons, making it hard to bend and straighten them.
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The joint may become red in appearance due to the inflammation. Discoloration of the skin around the joints in the hands and feet is a sign of RA. Redness occurs because the inflammation causes the blood vessels in the surrounding skin to broaden. Wider vessels permits more blood to flow into this area, giving the skin a sore look.
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The joint may feel warm to the touch. This is caused by inflammation and may be present before inflammation. This can be an early symptom of RA.
Numbness and tingling
One early sign of rheumatoid arthritis is numbness and tingling sensation affecting the hands and feet. These symptoms are caused by inflammation in the joints that can cause nerve compression, leading in loss of sensation.
- Joint pain and swelling
Joint pain and swelling in the fingers, wrists, and feet is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Joint swelling appears to be more obvious as RA progresses. Inflammation causes the lining of the joint to become thicker and also causes the production of extra joint fluid.
Image source: Hopkinsarthritis.org, womenworking.com