Since arthritis is a general medical terminology covering more than hundred different diseases of the joint, the word 'rheumatism' was probably used in the past when referring it to a non-specific joint disease.
Be that as it may, one thing is for sure, and that is that, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body's own immune system attacks itself. Though medical knowledge till now is rather limited about the abnormal immune system response, it has at least been established that cells of the immune system travel freely all over the body through the bloodstream resulting a non-localized disease condition. The manifestation thus starts with one joint first, then spreading to other joints. Instances of sudden inflammation and pain in different joints simultaneously are not uncommon though.
What Are The Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
As another significant characteristic of autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis tend to be associated with systemic symptoms, i.e. symptoms appearing throughout the body or the system. These include mild fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and malaise. Medically speaking, these are manifestations of cell discontent when they are (wrongly?) activated.
Some of the usual symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are given below.
o Swollen, painful, tender and stiff joints are usually associated with rheumatoid arthritis. They are more or less symmetrically affected, i.e. the same joints on both sides and all over the body like the hands, elbows, knees, hands and the wrists.
o Joint stiffness in the morning or after long periods of lethargy. The stiffness may last about an hour or may take several hours to go.
o Bumps or nodules appearing over the pressure points in the body like the knuckles, elbows, spine and lower leg bones. They may range in size from a pea to a mothball and develop in around one-third of people having rheumatoid arthritis.
o Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms usually affect both sides of the body at the same time. Sometimes, three sets of joints are affected at a time.
o Low fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and malaise are the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
How to differentiate between the symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis
Since rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the whole-body immune reaction to a problem that is localized, it can affect any joint/joints irrespective of the fact that they are weight-bearing or not. Also, it usually affects the smaller joints like the hands, balls of the feet, wrists or elbows. But there are quite a few exceptions to this.
o Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the same type of joints on both sides of the body as is it is caused by the chemicals that are flowing through the bloodstream.
o People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may feel stiffness all through the day on account of the swelling of the joints.
o Rheumatoid arthritis patients may feel fatigue, and loss of appetite. There might be other problems all over the body as well.