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Discovering If Your Symptoms Are Rheumatoid Arthritis

Discussing Rheumatoid Arthritis

Chronic inflammation of the joints can result in a chronic disease known as Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA). In many cases, the inflammation of the joints can be severe enough to cause the joints to deform. This is particularly visible in the hands, where the movement of the fingers can be impaired. Another sign of rheumatoid arthritis is lumps known as rheumatoid nodules, which can form anywhere on your body.

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

While rheumatoid arthritis mostly appears in adults, it can appear in anyone of any age. When it occurs in those under 16, it is known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (or JRA). Thankfully, the majority of JRA patients will grow out of it. Adults with rheumatoid arthritis are afflicted for life. The most common outcome for patients with JRA is impaired bone development.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

The primary cause of this condition isn’t well known. What is known is that it is an autoimmune disorder. In this kind of disorder, the body begins to attack healthy tissues and cells within the body. This is the cause of the inflammation associated with the condition. The damage caused by the inflammation can cause damage to other areas of the body, including organs and the skeletal system. It’s been determined that rheumatoid arthritis may be hereditary. The most common age of patients with RA is 30 to 50, with the majority of them being men.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Those who experience RA typically present with symptoms in the shoulders, elbows, ankles, feet, knees, wrists, and hands. The symptoms tend to appear on both sides of the body at the same point. They may onset quickly or may develop slowly over time. Common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Swelling over the joints
  • Decreased movement
  • Pain that is worse with joint movement
  • Bumps over the small joints
  • Difficulty keeping up with ADLS (Activities of daily living), including:
    • Tying shoes
    • Buttoning shirts
    • Opening jars
    • etc
  • Difficulty pinching or grasping things grasping or pinching things
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Occasional fever

As you can see, these symptoms appear in a wide variety of conditions. This makes confirming a diagnosis difficult. Working closely with your physician is the best way to achieve this goal.

How Rheumatoid Arthritis is Successfully Diagnosed

During the earliest stages of rheumatoid arthritis, it can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms begin very mild and are generally undetectable with blood tests and x-rays. It begins with a physical exam from your physician that covers your medical history. After that, they may use ultrasounds, blood tests, nodule biopsy, x-rays, and a process known as aspiration of the joint.

Speak to Your Orthopedic Specialist For Advanced Care

Getting started with determining if you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis begins with a trip to your physician. They’ll be able to help identify your symptoms and determine if they indicate Rheumatoid Arthritis. Treatment and management of the condition are possible with the help of a skilled specialist. Reach out to them and start today!

Luc Teurlings, MD The team at Space Coast Orthopedics is proud to provide the communities of Merritt Island, FL, and the entire space coast with exceptional orthopedic services. From physical therapy to surgical solutions for concerns affecting joints resulting from sports injuries, natural aging, or trauma, we work with our patients to restore and maintain an active life.
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