Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) | All You Need to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is known to affect small joints as hands or feet on both sides of the body. Arthritis patients complain from many uncomfortable symptoms which make their daily activities so hard. Autoimmune disorders as rheumatoid arthritis affect all body systems so its symptoms are not limited to joints. RA is an Inflammatory disease, so it is usually accompanied by abnormal homeostasis and an irritated immune system. Physicians and orthopedic surgeons divide rheumatoid arthritis symptoms into usual and unusual symptoms, they always consider both types while diagnosing.

Usual symptoms are those which are reported frequently by rheumatoid patients and we will sum them up into seven main symptoms.

  1. Joint pain and tenderness are the patient’s first complaint. Almost all Rheumatoid arthritis patients suffer from chronic joint pain ranging from mild to severe and it is exaggerated by movement. The first episode of pain comes with no warning and lasts for about two hours. Fortunately, these waves of pain could be controlled by analgesics.
  2. Some patients experience fatigue and flu-like symptoms days before feeling joint pain. Delocalized muscle numbness and periods of inactivity are said to be the earliest signs of rheumatoid arthritis
  3. Stiffness of the joints and inability to articulate smoothly. The knee joint is the most affected joint by this symptom and it always gets worse after waking up in the morning or after making effort. Flexing and extending the joint may help reduce its stiffness.
  4. Limited joint movement is a major barrier for rheumatoid arthritis patients as they could not perform many exercises. Massaging the muscles surrounding the joint is believed to widen the range of its articulation.
  5. Swelling and redness are the most common results of acute joint inflammation. These symptoms unlike how they look like, are not serious and often do not last for more than two weeks.
  6. Joint deformity which is considered a complication of uncontrolled rheumatoid arthritis appears as hard painless nodules under the skin. Unfortunately, deformities in bones of the joint could not be fixed by medications and doctors may recommend joint replacement surgery.

RA can also affect other organs throughout the body and cause problems in them and usually untreated rheumatoid arthritis can have serious consequences and much damage to these organs. Unusual symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are believed to be its complications or resulted from the interaction between body organs and the irritated immune system. We will cover them into:

1) Rash

A rash is an inflammatory condition characterized by the presence of itchy painful small red dots on a localized part on the skin. A rash mostly results from vasculitis which is inflammation of the small blood vessels supplying the skin. Rheumatoid patients are more likely to get their skin irritated and develop rashes due to the flared up immune system. Rheumatoid patients are more likely to get rashes as well as rheumatoid papules than normal people. In severe cases, the skin covering the affected joint may have ulcers. A rash is not a common symptom and affects a small percentage of patients as it is believed that 1% of RA patients will have rashes. Rashes can appear on any part of the skin but it occasionally reported on the fingertips and skin covering joints.