According to the CDC, one in four adults in the United States has doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints, and like the other types of arthritis, it is widespread. But how can you know if you have rheumatoid arthritis?
Here at The Spine and Pain Center of California, Dr. Navin Mahallavaram — our founder and provider — works along with our other providers to offer convenient, effective care for long-term pain problems. We also empower our patients to learn as much as possible about their conditions, and rheumatoid arthritis is no exception.
Rheumatoid arthritis 101
Arthritis is a kind of inflammatory disease. It’s also an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body begins to attack healthy joint tissue, thinking it is instead a type of malicious force like an infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis may occur for many reasons. Mostly, it is believed that genetics, environment, and hormones all play a role. Certain factors increase the likelihood of developing the condition, including smoking, old age, and obesity. Women are also more likely to develop it than men.
Those with multiple factors should be aware of the clear signs associated with the condition. In many cases, better outcomes are seen when the condition is caught and treated early on than when it’s allowed to develop unchecked.
Five signs of rheumatoid arthritis
Being able to recognize this condition and start treatment right away is crucial to your health long-term. This is why you should always be watching for these five signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
1. Joint pain and stiffness
Make sure you pay attention to pain, discomfort, aching, and stiffness in your joints. This is especially associated with rheumatoid arthritis if it occurs in more than one joint. The pain and stiffness will also feel worse in the morning or when you have been idle for long periods.
2. Tender, swollen joints
Your joints will also feel tender and warm to the touch, making you notice the difference between when they are swollen and not swollen. This will also occur in more than one joint, and it will usually match on both sides of your body, affecting both hands, knees, etc.
3. Weight loss
Unexplained weight loss could potentially be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. This is associated with the way your body’s immune system is attacking things it shouldn’t, causing it to chip away at your joint tissues and muscles. In some individuals, it can also cause appetite loss, leading to weight loss.
As you might’ve guessed, fatigue is another side effect for the same reasons that weight loss occurs. The antibodies that should be fighting illnesses are working overtime fighting your own body, which causes you to feel exhaustion.
Low-grade fevers are also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s common to experience a mild fever, fatigue, and weakness when you experience a flare-up and have no symptoms for some time. If you do notice these issues coming and going with no apparent cause (such as a cold) and significant joint issues, it’s likely you’re dealing with this condition.
Do I have rheumatoid arthritis?
You might be dealing with rheumatoid arthritis if you notice chronic issues with the symptoms listed above. As previously stated, it’s best to seek help as soon as possible to begin treating the problem in whatever way is best for your needs.
We want to help you avoid the pain and discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis. To make an appointment today, visit us online and book at our Pleasanton or Fremont, CA office.