What Are the Common Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
What are the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is stiffness in the joints in the hands or feet, especially early thing in the morning. Joint pain is symmetrical, that is, pain is present in both hands and both feet, not just one appendage. Joint pain goes hand-in-hand with tenderness. This pain can make it difficult to perform even the smallest of tasks like typing, writing, opening lids, turning a key, etc.
However, just because you wake up with stiffness doesn't necessarily mean you have rheumatoid arthritis. In order to assume a correct diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, you must have experienced stiffness for an hour or more or swelling and accompanying pain that is persistent for more than six weeks. It's important to note that rheumatoid arthritis symptoms vary vastly from person to person. Other common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Appendage deformities
- Crepitus (odd grating or crackling sound under the skin, in the joints, or around the lungs)
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Eye burning, discharge, or itching
- Fluid accumulation behind the knee or ankles
- Inflammation in the ankles, elbows, feet, hips, knees, neck, and shoulder joints
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of energy
- Loss of joint flexibility
- Loss of joint function
- Loss of range of motion
- Pea-sized lumps, also known as nodules, under the skin
- Pleurisy (inflammation of the lungs)
- Swollen glands
- Weight loss that's unexplainable
These general symptoms can often confuse people because early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may resemble flu-like symptoms. Consider these medical conditions that can easily be misdiagnosed with:
- Interstitial pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lungs.
- Neuropathy, which is abnormal nerve function.
- Sjorgren's syndrome, which is defined by dry mouth and dry eyes.
- Pericarditis, which is tissue inflammation that surround the heart and chest cavity lining.
- Pleural effusion, which is fluid collection in the chest cavity.
- Scleritis, which is inflammation found in the white part of the eye.
- Splenomegaly, which is spleen enlargement.
- Vasculitis, which is the inflammation of the blood vessels.
How do you know if it's rheumatoid arthritis or another medical condition?
Only a rheumatologist can make a proper diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, but they can only make an accurate diagnosis if the patient provides complete answers to their questions. A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis depends on the patient's history of concerns and symptoms and an examination of the joints and inflammation. Blood tests and x-rays will help confirm these suspicions. Don't be disappointed if it takes the rheumatologist needs several visits to make a diagnosis.
What else is there to know?
Keep a log and learn to adopt new changes that will keep your rheumatoid arthritis pains at bay. You may still experience periodic pains, but you can live a near-normal life if you become aware of your body and its needs.