Written by Dr. Jessica Chapman, Community Care Rheumatology
What are the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis? Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the more common forms of autoimmune arthritis, affecting about 1% of the adult population. Women tend to be affected more than men (2-3:1) and the disease traditionally manifests between the ages of 40 – 60. However, it can also happen in young adults and older individuals. When it happens in children, it’s called juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Early Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The following are some of the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
#1 Inflammatory joint pain
Most of us experience joint pain at some point in our lives. This is simply a part of being human. However, most of us experience non-inflammatory joint pain, NOT inflammatory joint pain. Non-inflammatory joint pain typically worsens as the day progresses. There typically is no swelling, redness, or warmth. There can be stiffness, but usually this lasts just a few minutes and certainly less than 30 minutes.
People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis present with inflammatory joint pain, which has very different symptoms:
• Joint pain that is worse in the morning and improves as the day goes by.
• There is joint swelling, and they usually feel warm to the touch. At times they can look red.
People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis experience stiffness that usually lasts more than one hour.
#2 Involvement of knuckles, wrists, ankles, and toes
Although rheumatoid arthritis can affect larger joints, like the knees, hips, and shoulders, it more commonly tends to affect smaller joints like the knuckles, wrists, ankles, and toes.
#3 Symmetrical joint distribution
Rheumatoid arthritis inflames joints symmetrically. If the second knuckle on the right hand is inflamed, the second knuckle on the left hand most likely will be too. Maybe not as much, but inflamed, nonetheless.
People often feel extremely tired when they suffer from rheumatoid arthritis making I difficult to get through the day.
The quicker the onset of other symptoms, the more likely it is that you will experience low grade fevers.
What Are Some of The Mimickers of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
When faced with symptoms that look and sound like rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to keep in mind that it could be another type of illness. This includes, but is not limited to:
• Psoriatic arthritis
• Gout and pseudogout
• Polymyalgia rheumatica
• Lyme arthritis
• Hepatitis C
Although signs and symptoms are very important, a review of your medical history and a physical examination in conjunction with specialized bloodwork and x-rays are essential to diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis. If you think you or one of your loved ones may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, call (518) 782-3899 to schedule an appointment with our Community Care Rheumatology office located in Malta. You can also visit their website for more information.
Rheumatology Secrets 3rd edition