Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a big hindrance to daily activities and patients are often faced with many difficulties. Categorized under the autoimmune type among the seven main arthritis conditions, rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder occurring when the body's immune system starts to attack itself because of some external trigger. The most commonly found arthritis condition is osteoarthritis, which affects the joints due to age, trauma or infection. Rheumatoid arthritis is a gradual condition, developing over several months and years. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis begin with little joint aches and pains.
Rheumatoid arthritis, described in a nutshell, is a chronic, systemic autoimmune disorder. The joints inflame and degenerate gradually, causing pain and discomfort throughout. The first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are usually inflammation and pain in fingers and toes. While the condition mostly affects the joints, about 15% of the patients develop extra-articular (external to the joints) rheumatoid arthritis as well.
In general, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are not uniform, rising up and dying down sporadically. This is known as "flare-ups."The symptoms can appear day or night, but the swelling and pain are often at their worst during the morning, just after waking. Since you move around during the day, or at least try to, and the joints grow less stiffened, the symptoms ease out by afternoon and often reduce dramatically by nighttime.
When rheumatoid arthritis begins to spread, it usually affects other joints, including the jaw, shoulders, elbows and hips. The pain and inflammation often affects joint pairs, such as both elbows or both knees. This is a common tendency seeing in patients with the condition. The typical symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are joint pain, swelling and stiffness, often accompanied by a warming sensation and redness around the joints.
A set of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, are referred to as secondary symptoms. These are connected to general health conditions as a response to the pain. These could be loss of appetite, anxiety, stress, depression, anemia, nodules under the skin, and a general feeling of being ill. Over 25% of the patients complain of skin nodules, specifically in the forearms and in the elbows. Though painless, they are small lumps that can be felt and sometimes seen as bumps on the skin. Anemia is a condition of inadequate red blood cells to carry oxygen to the whole body, and it leads to fatigue, and laziness. This is found in over 80% of the patients.
There are instances of all symptoms combining to lead to weight loss and fever in patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis. It does not end with just these, it also leads to inability to sleep, constant discomfort due to pain and weakness. This leads to a feeling of illness worse than before. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include swelling of blood vessels, glands like the tear and salivary glands, and inflammation of the lining of the heart and lungs.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis point to a series of risk factors like age, gender, genetic history and harmful habits like smoking. Women in the 40-60 age group are at a higher risk. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is rare but not unheard of. This condition is generally not hereditary, but dormant genes can flare up with certain triggers.