Four signs of rheumatoid arthritis not related to the joints

Four signs of rheumatoid arthritis not related to the joints


Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms

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Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society points out. When a person develops this autoimmune condition, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, which can lead to painful and stiff joints. There are other signs of rheumatoid arthritis to be aware of, aside from joint issues.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the condition could lead to weight loss.

Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, and weakness, alongside typical joint symptoms, such as:

  • Pain or aching in joints
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Tenderness and swelling in joints.

“The specific causes of RA [rheuamtoid arthritis] are unknown,” said the CDC. “But some factors can increase the risk of developing the disease.”

Risk factors for developing RA

Multiple studies show that smoking increases a person’s risk of developing RA, as could obesity.

While these risk factors for RA can be modified, there are certain risks that simply can not be mitigated.

One such factor is genetics, with those inheriting the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genotypes being more at risk of RA.

“The risk of RA may be highest when people with these genes are exposed to environmental factors like smoking or when a person is obese,” the CDC adds.

People experiencing symptoms of RA are advised to book a doctor’s appointment to receive a diagnosis.

“It’s best to diagnose RA early – within six months of the onset of symptoms – so that people with the disease can begin treatment to slow or stop disease progression,” the RA says.

Treatment typically includes the use of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

The NHS explains: “DMARDs work by blocking the effects of the chemicals released when your immune system attacks your joints.”

Otherwise, further damage will occur to nearby bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.

If rheumatoid arthritis is not managed, health complications can occur.

One such example is carpal tunnel syndrome whereby the median nerve is compressed, leading to aching, numbness, or tingling in the hand.

The inflammatory condition could lead to further inflammation in blood vessels, the lungs, the heart, and the eyes.

Rheumatoid arthritis could put you at increased risk of:

  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pericarditis
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Vasculitis
  • Cardiovascular disease.

Anybody diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis would benefit from long-term treatment.

“It’s important to take your medicine as instructed, even if you start to feel better,” the NHS says.

“Medicine can help prevent flare-ups and reduce the risk of further problems, such as joint damage.

“If you have any questions or concerns about the medicine you’re taking or side effects, talk to your healthcare team.”

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