Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronical inflammatory autoimmune disorder that, while primarily effecting an individual's joints, can also pose other severe health risks. The disease occurs when your immune system mistakenly register's your body's own tissues as a foreign invader. It then proceeds to attack these tissues, thus causing swelling, and pain. Eventually RA can even lead to bone erosion and deformity in the joints.
Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Joints & Bones
The primary symptoms revolve around the joints and bones. Suffers of RA may experience tenderness, swelling, or warmth radiating from their joints. The disease tends to start with the smaller joints, so your fingers and toes are likely to be the first issues noticed. As it progress, RA will move to effect wrists, ankles, knees, shoulders, and hips as well. Another common sign of RA is a feeling of stiffness that may be worse in the mornings, or after activity.
When the disease progresses, signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis move on to be much more noticeable, and painful. This includes joints which have shifted out of place, or bones which have been eroded due to the pressure the swelling has placed on them. This is incredibly painful, and can severely impact your quality of life.
Other Body-Wide Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although it is the signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis affecting the bones and joints that most people bring to mind, it is the other body-wise complications that make the disease so dangerous. The swelling present in your joints can also be present in other places of your body. It is important to remember that every case is different, and some individuals may have no other symptoms, while others have several.
Your heart, skin, lungs, eyes, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, blood vessels, and bone marrow can also be effected by the inflammation of RA. This could potentially lead to severe health problems like heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, seizures, paralysis, blindness, and COPD.
Mental Health & RA
Managing a chronic health problem like RA can have serious negative effects on your mental health. This is understandable, as it is not only painful and frustrating, but can also be incredibly frightening and overwhelming. There is a high rate of individuals with RA who suffer from mood disorders like depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
These symptoms are most often seen within two years of a diagnosis, when patients are still having difficulties coming to term with their diagnosis. They may present at any other time, however, even before a diagnosis has been reached.
What To Do If You Think You Have RA
If, after reading about the signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, you believe you may be suffering from the disease, you should schedule an appointment with your general practitioner. He or she may refer you to a specialist called a rheumatologist. These are doctors who have been trained specifically in the field of rheumatic disease, and are the best option for diagnosis and treatment.
Only a certified medical practitioner is able to diagnosis you with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and as the disease only gets worse with time, it is best to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.