When a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is given to a person, chances are a lot of confusion and questions will result. But with better understanding of the condition and what can be done to alleviate pain and flare-ups, it is possible to cope. Many do find that life can go on - even enjoyably - after a diagnosis has been made.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis And What Are Its Symptoms?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that causes the body's own defences to go on the offensive when there is no evident reason to do so. The condition primarily affects three main areas of the body:
- The synovial membrane that lines the joint capsule;
- Tendon sheaths, which cover tendons and facilitate their movement;
- The bursae, which are fluid sacs that enable tendons and muscles their normally smooth movement.
Rheumatoid arthritis cases do vary from patient to patient, but there are some symptoms that are common with this condition. They include:
- Swelling in the joints
- Pain associated with joint movement
- Stiffness and pain in the joints after period of inactivity
- Generalized, flu-like symptoms
- Sleep disturbances and fatigue
- Weight loss
Although this form of arthritis is commonly known to impact joints in the hands, knees, neck and elsewhere, it impacts can be felt well beyond the joints. Some patients who suffer from this condition can experience problems with other organs in their bodies that are directly attributable to the disease. These areas and the symptoms they can present with include:
- The eyes - Inflammation and dryness are the common symptoms.
- The lungs - When they are affected, the symptoms might include fibrosis, nodules and fluid buildup.
- The skin - Ulcers and nodules are the common signs.
- The heart - Ischemic heart disease, fluid buildup and nodules may result.
- The blood - Low counts and anemia can go along with the disease.