Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid Arthritis: What are the symptoms?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be described as an autoimmune disease. RA is a condition in which the immune system attacks the joints and other tissues.

According to Mayo Clinic the most common symptoms associated with RA are those related to joint injury. Other symptoms can be caused by an overactive immune system.

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Common signs and symptoms of rheumatoidarthritis

Named after the effects it has on the joints, Rheumatoid Arthritis is also known as autoimmune arthritis. It can also cause other autoimmune symptoms.

Joint pain and swelling

Joint pain and swelling are the main symptoms of RA. The symptoms usually start in the smaller joints. RA usually begins in the wrists and fingers (knuckles). Other joints that are commonly affected by RA are:

  • Ankles
  • Knees
  • Elbows
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Jaw

The affected joints might feel warm and spongy. Mayo Clinic says that RA usually causes symmetrical joint damage. This means that if your left arm is affected, so will your right.

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Symmetrical symptoms are what distinguish RA (OA) from osteoarthritis. OA is more likely to be symmetrical because it’s caused by physical wear and tear of joints. OA is the most common type of arthritis that people associate with aging, or an injury that happened years ago.

Fatigue and fever

While joint pain is the most common symptom of RA it is not the only symptom. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that many people suffering from RA experience a low-grade fever (less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and severe fatigue for several hours after waking. These early symptoms and signs may not necessarily be associated with RA. Fatigue and fever can also be caused by other conditions, such as the common cold. Until joint symptoms start to appear, there is typically no reason for a doctor not to suspect RA.

Stiffness

Another sign that may help you distinguish RA from other types of arthritis is prolonged stiffness when you wake up.

Stiffness is another sign of RA. This can occur after prolonged inactivity such as sitting. This stiffness can last for up to an hour. Stiffness due to other forms of arthritis tends to last for shorter periods.

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Rheumatoid nodules

Mayo Clinic says that rheumatoid nosodes are fleshy, hard lumps that can appear under the skin. They can be anywhere from the size of a pea to the size of a walnut. They can be mobile or permanently connected to the tendons beneath the skin. Nodules are most common at pressure points like the heels or elbows. Advanced RA is characterized by nodules called rheumatoid.

Other signs of rheumatoid arthritis

Multiple organs can be affected by RA. This type of damage is rare and can be treated with better treatments. These symptoms are indicative of more advanced or severe disease.

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