For people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), life can become increasingly difficult. There are many symptoms of RA that can go unnoticed until the autoimmune disorder has aggressively inflamed joints, requiring intense effort to accomplish even simple tasks.
In most cases it will take months or years for this disorder to settle in, oscillating between flare-ups, steady states of discomfort. Here are some symptoms to keep in mind:
1. Morning stiffness
How you feel first thing in the morning can tell a great deal about the development of arthritis. Being stiff first thing in the morning, continuing on for several minutes is a common indicator that arthritis is developing in the body. As time goes on, untreated stiffness will only worsen. As this condition progresses, this stiffness can endure for hours. As this progresses, long periods of inactivity, such as sitting or napping, can result in the degree of stiffness.
2. Minor joint swelling
With persistent stiffness, inflammation is soon to follow. In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis is joint inflammation. As the joints in the arms and legs flare up, you will notice a mild swelling. In time a pattern of inflammation may be present, going from flare-ups to remission and back again. It’s rather common for this kind of inflammation to lead the development of mild fever. If you experience elevated body temperature that exceeds 100°F it may be caused by a viral infection or some other illness.
3. Joint pain and stiffness
Stiffness in the joints is common with this condition, typically beginning with the hands. It may take some time but this limited dexterity can find its way to other parts of the arms and extremities. Levels of activity may not improve the stiffness of these joints and it can begin at any time of the day. However, the longer it does persist, the greater the likelihood this stiffness will begin to spread. As joints are stiff and movement becomes challenging, pain becomes an inevitability. Whether moving or resting, this joint pain is often persistent and distributed throughout the body. For most people with rheumatoid arthritis pain will begin in the fingers and wrists before it makes it way to the knees, shoulders, and elsewhere.
4. Limited range of motion
If joints are inflamed and stiff, you may find that your overall mobility has been affected as well. That inflammation can affect the health of ligaments and tendons. When this occurs, bending joints, lengthening limbs, or twisting the spine may become too difficult to accomplish. This lack of mobility may or may not be accompanied with pain, pressure on nerves, numbness, tingling, or burning. In some cases you may be able to hear a squeak or crackling noise, a sign that cartilage is grinding against weakened joints when moving. Persistent and widespread aches and pains, limited mobility, and reduced mobility are indicators that you may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disorder. For most, a well balanced, nutritious diet along with regular, gentle exercise are some of the lifestyle changes that can improve their quality of life. This, however, is no substitute for proper medical attention. If you find that you are suffering from one or more of these conditions, consult your doctor as soon as possible.