Consultant Rheumotologist Published on: 26 Sep 2021
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in chronic inflammation of the joints and other areas of the body. It affects the joints on both sides of the body, such as both wrists, hands, and knees. It can also affect the eyes, skin, lungs, blood, heart, or nerves.
Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. For some, the symptoms like joint inflammation may develop gradually over several years; while it may be seen quickly in others. If the inflammation is ignored and left untreated, it may damage the cartilage, an elastic tissue that covers the end of the bones in a joint and also the bones themselves.
Here is a list of signs to diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis in an early stage that helps in treating it before the condition gets worse.
This is the most common and prominent sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Though it takes some time to loosen up the stiffness; if the stiffness lasts for a few minutes, it is considered a symptom of a degenerative form of arthritis. While the stiffness that lasts for several hours is a symptom of inflammatory arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis may also feel stiffness after being inactive for a long time, such as napping or sitting.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis may experience chronic fatigue. The fatigue related to rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by abnormal, excessive exhaustion. It is not related to physical tiredness due to exercise or exertion. One who experiences fatigue due to rheumatoid arthritis cannot get relieved by sleep or rest.
Though joint stiffness can also occur for other reasons, it is considered one of the classic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, stiffness can occur in one or more of the smaller joints, regardless of being active or not. Mostly, joint stiffness begins in the hands. Though it starts on slowly, sometimes it can come suddenly and affect multiple joints over a few days.
Joint stiffness often follows joint pain or tenderness during the movement or while at rest. The most common sites for pain are the joints in the fingers and wrists. People with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience chronic pain in their knees, feet, ankles, or shoulders. The main reason behind the chronic joint pains in rheumatoid arthritis is the ongoing inflammation of joints that cause bones to grind against each other.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining and cartilage of the joints get damaged. This leads to the painful swelling known as inflammation, which is the most common symptom seen in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation of the joints makes them appear bigger than normal, causing joints to feel warm to the touch. This may lead to permanent joint damage and usually affects both sides of the body equally. Inflammation can also happen throughout the body, apart from the joints.
Numbness & Tingling Sensation:
Inflammation of tendons can create pressure on nerves and cause numbness or tingling in the thumb and fingers, a classic symptom of “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”. People with rheumatoid arthritis may also notice a squeak or crackling noise in the joints of hands or feet during movement due to damaged cartilage grinds against the joints.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, people may suffer from a low-grade fever with the body temperature ranging from 98.7 to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. A low-grade fever accompanied by other symptoms like joint pain and inflammation can be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
Reduced Range of Movement: Inflammation of joints results in unstable or deformed tendons and ligaments. The active disease increases joint inflammation and results in decreased range of motion. Swelling in the joints limits the range of motion and makes people lose their ability to bend or straighten the joints.