Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, affects millions of people worldwide, including more than 1.3 million Americans. Without proper treatment, rheumatoid arthritis can get progressively worse and affect your mobility.
In this blog, the caring professionals at MidJersey Orthopaedics explain what RA is, your risk factors for developing it, and signs that you may have it.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means your immune system attacks healthy tissue and fluid. With rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks the synovial lining in a joint, and this causes inflammation.
If the disease goes untreated, it can also cause bone deformities. And since the condition is usually lifelong, you should get treatment as soon as possible if you have the disease.
Am I at risk?
While anyone can develop RA, certain groups of people have an elevated risk, particularly women. Many factors can increase your risk of developing RA, including:
- Advanced age
- Family history
- Tobacco use or second-hand exposure
- History of live births
- Carrying extra weight
If you have any of these risk factors, and if you also have any of the symptoms described below, you should contact MidJersey Orthopaedics as soon as possible.
Five signs of rheumatoid arthritis
There are a number of symptoms of RA, but here are five of the most common signs:
Waking up refreshed in the morning is the best way to start the day. Stiffness in your joints, however, is an early warning sign of RA. You should pay particular attention if you’re stiff in the morning and during the earliest part of your day. How long your stiffness lasts is less important than the consistency of your stiffness. If you’re feeling stiff several times per week, monitor yourself closely for other symptoms.
2. Chronic fatigue
If you’ve noticed joint stiffness with a decrease in energy, it may be time to give us a call. Rheumatoid arthritis targets the joints, which may make you feel tired and affect your ability to fully participate in daily life. You may begin to feel less energetic before the onset of joint pain. Since fatigue is an indicator of many common conditions, it’s understandable not to think anything of it until other symptoms appear.
3. Joint swelling
One of the most recognizable and uncomfortable symptoms of RA is swollen joints. It’s not unusual to experience periodic swelling of your ankles and feet occasionally. However, if the affected joints are swollen frequently and are painful or warm to the touch, it could be serious.
4. Numbness and tingling
Unexplained numbness or tingling anywhere in your body is a good reason to contact your doctor. Swollen joints can put pressure on your delicate nerves, which can cause uncomfortable tingling feelings and burning sensation when moving an affected joint.
Among early symptoms of RA is a low-grade fever. You may not feel like you need to be stuck in bed, but a fever, in conjunction with other symptoms, could mean that something is wrong.
Your mobility is in your hands
Knowing the signs of RA is important, particularly if you have several risk factors. If you experience frequent joint pain accompanied by any other symptoms, getting treatment now could mean a better life later.
We have several treatment options available and can go over them after giving you a thorough evaluation. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with MidJersey Orthopaedics today.