Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
One of the forms of arthritis commonly occurring among persons aged 60 and above, rheumatoid arthritis is a result of a defective immune system which turns on the body in reaction to a particular stimulus. In this regard, it is not unlike an allergy where the immune system, after being exposed to an allergen, reacts by attacking the body. However, while allergic reactions are often characterized by runny nose and itchy eyes, the most common of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms is pain and inflammation of the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes an autoimmune response in the body, leading to permanent, painful changes in the joints. The pain is often chronic and progressive – meaning it can only get worse as the disease progresses. Fortunately for patients experiencing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, there are many treatment options available to help them cope. Also, understanding the disease and recognizing the common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may also help as early detection is often the key to halting the disease from worsening even further.
Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis
The first thing you need to learn about rheumatoid arthritis is that it affects the joints. The joints are the intersection of two bones, like the ones in your elbows and knees. To prevent these bones from scraping each other, their ends are coated with a smooth, durable substance called a cartilage, which allows the bones to glide over each other with very little friction as well as provides cushioning for absorption of forces, like gravity acting on your weight when you jump.
The entire area around your joint is covered by a structure called the joint capsule. Inside this joint capsule is a synovial membrane that contains a viscous substance similar to oil. This substance is called synovial fluid and it is responsible for transporting nutrients to the cartilage and keeps its surface well lubricated.
Now, with the way rheumatoid arthritis symptoms work, this well-balanced process that occurs within the joint capsule – between the synovial fluid and the cartilage, the joint and the synovial membrane – is disrupted causing your joints to go haywire. The autoimmune defect will cause healthy living cells to get attacked, causing the destruction of several of the structures surrounding the joints, leading to swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Determining Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms mostly affect women. In studies conducted, the disease is said to occur to women three times more often than men. The rheumatoid arthritis symptoms first appear in the small joints first. This means it occurs first in the hands and feet. In addition, the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms also appear bilaterally and are often worse in the morning or after rest.
Next to pain, the most common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are the occurrence of subcutaneous rheumatoid nodules. These are firm masses the size of a pea, typically made up of inflammatory by products and scar tissue. Contrary to what many believe, nodules are not painful. These are probably the most visible of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms as they can occur anywhere in the body, including elbows, back of the forearms, ankles, or the back of the skull.
If you notice these rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, it is advised that you consult your doctor at once for proper diagnosis and treatment.