Arthritis is an umbrella term that includes more than 100 different diseases in several broad categories. One of those categories is inflammatory arthritis, and the most common type of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, or RA. RA is an autoimmune disorder, where your body attacks the lining of your joints, causing inflammation, pain, and eventually, damage.
The highly skilled and trained providers at Rheumatology Solutions treat rheumatoid arthritis, along with other types of inflammatory arthritis, and we know that often people at higher risk worry about developing the condition. In this post, we describe those risk factors and some of the early signs to which you should pay attention. Early treatment of RA is important because it can significantly slow the progression of the disease.
Researchers don’t know why some people develop autoimmune conditions and others don’t. There are a few things that appear to increase your risk of RA. For example, the older you are, the higher the likelihood of developing RA. The demographic group most likely to experience the onset of RA are people in their 60s.
Women are more likely to develop RA than men, by a significant margin. New cases of RA are two to three times more likely to be in women than in men. Other risk factors include:
The most well-known symptom of RA is joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, or swelling, as it is for all forms of arthritis. But, with RA you’re likely to feel pain or stiffness in more than one joint unlike with some other kinds of arthritis. You may also notice that you have pain in the same joints on opposite sides of your body — so if your right knee hurts, your left one may also hurt.
RA usually begins in the small joints of your body, such as your wrists, fingers, or the bones in your feet. Most people with RA have worse symptoms in the morning, and joint stiffness that lasts for 30 minutes or more when they first wake up.
You may also experience fatigue or tiredness in the early stages of RA. RA fatigue is a well-documented symptom. Weakness may also be a problem.
Many people with RA lose weight. Researchers aren’t sure why unexplained weight loss is so often a symptom in RA, but it could be related to simply being in pain. Some people develop a low-grade fever with RA, as well.
If you’re having symptoms of RA, you should see an expert because the sooner you get treatment, the better for your joints, and the less likely you’ll experience complications. To get a correct diagnosis, your doctor will do blood tests, provide a physical examination and talk to you about your symptoms.
Many new treatments for RA are available that are incredibly effective. There’s no cure, but it’s possible to reach remission in many cases through proper treatment and lifestyle changes.
If you have joint pain, fatigue, or other symptoms, schedule an appointment at Rheumatology Solutions today. A correct diagnosis is the best way to find an effective and appropriate course of treatment.