Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, affecting many joints of the body. It is a chronic illness, mainly characterized by inflammation of joints lining, or synovium. RA can lead to long-term damage of the joints, resulting in loss of function, disability and chronic pain. It may start in any joint, but affects several smaller joints in hands.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
A very common rheumatoid arthritis symptom is morning stiffness, and it lasts for more than an hour. Even if body remains motionless for few moments, it can become stiff. But movements become easier after loosening up.
If pain and swelling in the joint has been prevalent for more than six weeks, diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be considered. The inflamed joints become swollen, and feel warm upon touching.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms first appear in the smaller joints such as ankles, hands, feet and wrists, and can cause problems in many joints simultaneously. As disease progresses, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, neck and jaw also get involved. In general, people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, 2 out of 10 will have mild symptoms, 3/4th will have flare-ups, and for one in 20, it will get serious, that may lead to severe disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually develops is knuckles, wrists and joints of ball of foot, but knees get affected as well. There are infact many joints involved, making spines misaligned.
Another common rheumatoid arthritis symptom is formation of lumps, or nodules due to inflammation of small blood vessels. These are of the size of a pea, and are formed under the skin. These nodules usually do not become infected and sore, especially in the areas of high stress, such as ankles.
Accumulation of fluid, especially in the ankles is also a common rheumatoid arthritis symptom. This fluid is accumulated in the joint sac behind the knee, and forms a Baker cyst, which may feel like a tumour. Sometimes, it causes pain by extending down to the back of the calf.
Weight loss, fatigue and fever are few rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that accompany early rheumatoid arthritis. In children, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is preceded by high fever, pain and swelling in many joints, shaking chills and pink skin rash.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
RA is a chronic disorder with no known cure. The goal of the treatment given is to have low level of arthritis disease activity and remission, minimizing damage of joints, and improving physical function and quality of life. There is a comprehensive program that is required to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The options for treatment include medications, surgical intervention, occupational and physical therapy and reduction of stress on joints.