Rheumatoid arthritis afflicts about 1 percent of all adults in developed countries, with risks increasing around the age of 40. While rheumatoid arthritis can be debilitating, there are treatments that can be effective in preventing joint damage. It is essential to know the top rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in order to recognize the problem before joint damage occurs; with the right treatment early enough, you can enjoy a pain-free life even with rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The most recognizable symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are morning stiffness and joint pain. The Mayo Clinic states, “Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first — the joints in your wrists, hands, ankles and feet.” For this reason, some of the first aches and pains associated with rheumatoid arthritis are often mistaken for relatively minor things like repetitive strain or ill-fitting shoes. As the disease progresses, however, morning stiffness can last for longer and longer periods of time, and larger joints such as the hips and back will begin to feel the pain.
In addition to joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by several other noticeable symptoms. Lumps may appear in the underarms as the lymph nodes swell, and the area around afflicted joints may also become red and swollen. Chest pains, fatigue and fever may also be associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Joints may also be sore to the slightest touch, especially around the hands and ankles, where the joints are subjected to a lot of movement throughout the day.
When to See a Doctor
Time is of the essence in beginning rheumatoid arthritis treatment, so it is strongly recommended to seek a doctor’s advice about any unidentified aches and pains. Waiting until the pain gets difficult to deal with may only mean that it will be that much harder to alleviate, and by then the joint damage is already done. A doctor may recommend a variety of treatments, including joint-protecting therapies, small lifestyle and movement changes that can help take the strain off susceptible joints, as well as stretching exercises that promote joint health.