Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms: Recognizing Signs of Arthritis
Moving around is what makes life sweet. Seriously, think about it. I know we all seem to focus on the much needed moments to plant it on the couch and refuse to move for a couple hours at the conclusion of a long busy day, but without our freedom to move, life would be pretty darn boring. It’s one thing to experience joint pain with intense physical activity or sport, but consider feeling pain just to get out of bed, walk from one room to the other, unscrew a jar, or even tie your shoes.
Rheumatoid arthritis can make life pretty miserable. Recognizing the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis could really help in understanding and seeking the help you may need for sore and achy joints before things become more severe.
Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Warm, tender swollen joints
• Stiffness in the morning that can last for hours
• Difficulty performing normal daily activities
• Fatigue, weight loss, and fever
• Rheumatoid nodules (firm bumps of tissue under the skin)
• Decreased quality of life
• Decrease in social participation and confidence
• Sadness and depression
Most of the time, early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are subtle and include the smaller joints of the hands and feet. Signs of arthritis in the hands may be difficulty turning door knobs or opening jars, while symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in feet are pain at the joints that attach the toes to the foot, making walking difficult, especially early in the morning.
As the disease progresses knee arthritis symptoms may arise, as well as ankle, hips, elbows, and shoulders.
Symptoms for arthritis, in most cases, occur in the same joints on both sides of the body and are characterized by periods of increased activity called “flares” and periods of “relative remission” when the pain and swelling seem to disappear.
Chronic inflammation can be extremely dangerous as joints, over time, can become deformed and shift out of place. Inflammation left uncontrolled can also damage tissues of the body such as cartilage and bone as well as weaken muscles, resulting in loss of function.
Other complications of rheumatoid arthritis include inflammation of the glands of the eyes, mouth, and lining of the lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis has also been associated with increased risk of heart attack, heightened risk of infections, increased risk of lymph cancer, and an enlarged spleen.
Rheumatoid Arthritis in Women vs. Men
Men tend to get rheumatoid arthritis much less than women. In fact, in the U.S., women with rheumatoid arthritis outnumber men 3 to 1. The cause for this is not clear, but evidence points to hormonal differences playing a big part. Men also tend to be diagnosed much later than women because they are often inclined to downplay the symptoms they are experiencing.
Symptoms for arthritis in men vs. women tend to be basically the same , with women experiencing more joint pain in their hands than men.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is not an illness affecting only the more elderly population. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most frequent type of arthritis in children under 16 years old.
Though rheumatoid arthritis signs are generally the same for kids as they are adults, kids usually don’t understand why they are feeling the way they do and may have a hard time expressing it verbally. Things to watch for with kids are:
• Signs that they are in pain such as walking with a limp, especially early in the morning or after a nap.
• Swelling in the joints (Recognized mainly in large joints such as the knee)
• Stiffness with movement which may be manifest by child seeming clumsier than usual especially in morning and after naps
In some cases, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can also cause rashes, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.
If you have joint pain and find yourself wondering “Do I have rheumatoid arthritis?,” paying attention to the pain and understanding the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis will help you, along with your doctor, to come up with the best individual strategy to keep you moving, pain free. After all, the highlight of your day should not be something like opening a pickle jar. You were born to MOVE!
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: Definition. (October 20, 2011). Retrieved on June 29, 2012 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/juvenile-rheumatoid-arthritis/DS00018
McMillen, Matt. When Men Get Rheumatoid Arthritis. Retrieved on July 14, 2012 from http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/features/men-rheumatoid-arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis. Retrieved on June 29, 2012 from http://www.medicinenet.com/rheumatoid_arthritis/page3.htm
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms. (November 2, 2011) Retrieved on June 29, 2012 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/ds00020/dsection=symptoms
Vann, Madeline, MPH. (Last Updated November 23, 2011). Managing Arthritis Symptoms in Your Hands. Retrieved on June 29, 2012 from http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis/arthritis-fingers-hands.aspx