Rheumatoid arthritis: 4 early symptoms that can help you check its progression
ISLAMABAD: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system of the body (that’s responsible of attacking disease-causing foreign objects) mistakenly starts attacking the joints. This causes inflammation that leads to swelling in the tissue lining the joints. If the inflammation goes unchecked for long, it can damage the bones and the cartridges protecting them. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints of the wrists, hands, feet, elbows, knees and ankles. It’s difficult to catch this disease at an early stage and by the time it gets diagnosed, it’s too late.
Another thing to note here is that, once acquired, rheumatoid arthritis can never be cured. Only the intensity can be controlled. This disorder comes under the systematic disease category, which means that, apart from the joints, it also impacts other functions of the body like cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Checking for uric acid levels and RA factor tests are common ways to know if a person is affected with this disease.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Though, it starts by minor warm swelling in smaller joints, there are other signs too that people notice, which do not involve the joints. Usually, early signs can be confused with temporary issues like frozen shoulders. But its impact on health can be more detrimental than expected. Let us take a look at some of the symptoms of this disorder.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms in almost all stages of RA. It happens because of the body’s reaction to joint inflammation and it’s at the peak when inflammation is active. This fatigue can, in turn, impact mood, emotions, relationships, creativity and energy levels. As RA comes with weight loss and loss in appetite, fatigue can be attributed to these reasons as well.
Mild, Warm Joint Pain
Joint pain is common. Mostly due to exertion and longer hours at work, everyone experiences joint pain. Therefore, it’s tough to know if these pains are associated with RA. However, if these pains come with minor swelling and difficulty in joint movement, it’s time to get your RA factor tested. If the RA factor comes positive, it’s an indication you need to start your treatment. In some cases, this factor comes negative but medical intervention can help with it.
Tender joints are the result of inflammation of tissues of the joints. Inflammation irritates the nerves in the joint capsule. When the joint capsule is compressed even by a mild external pressure like touch, it causes unbearable pain. That’s the reason RA patients find it difficult to sleep or sit in position or sit at lower surfaces. These activities put extra pressure on their joints and cause pain. Therefore, because of gradual decrease in joint movements, the joints become still and immobile.
Joints that are affected by RA are characterised by stiffness which can be extreme during the morning than the day time. Morning stiffness’ duration is taken as a parametre to check the severity of the disease. Stiffness of joints either diminishes or reduces with treatment. However, it may or may not affect the joint pain.