You Don’t Have To Be Old to Suffer From Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis can strike at any age. While statistically you’re more likely to develop RA when you’re over 60, lots of cases start a long time before then. To make sure you’re clued up, we’ve got 15 early-sign symptoms to look out for.
A raised temperature can often be a sign of infection, and in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis this can be a very clear indicator. Lots of RA medication lowers your immune system response, leaving you more open to developing infections or contracting viruses, so it’s important to keep an eye on your temperature.
Inflammation of the joints can adversely affect your bone marrow, causing a decrease in red blood cell production, which in turn can cause anemia. This is often corrected through proper treatment of RA, but it’s something to look out for, as it can be a serious condition when left unmanaged.
People who suffer from RA often complain about problems with their grip or dexterity and this is a very common issue. Swelling, inflammation and other processes that happen in the joints of Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers cause problems with movement and ability that can seriously affect your life, especially if you’re used to physical work.
One of the key characteristics of RA is that it causes the same problems on both sides of the body, and while this is often the case – it doesn’t always occur. For most sufferers though, the severity, pain and movement issues occur symmetrically as opposed to other joint and internal diseases.
Polyarthritis (many joints)
Young people with arthritis tend to only be affected in one or a few joints, however it can eventually lead to Polyarthritis. This means that many joints are affected, especially with RA – this can mean anywhere from the hands, feets and smaller joints to the knees, shoulders and pelvis.
You can usually tell when your joints are bigger than usual, and swelling is a common problem for RA sufferers. It stops the joint from being able to move properly, so it might make it difficult for you to walk, to pick things up or even use your hands for tasks such as writing or typing.
Rheumatoid Arthritis causes the loosening of ligaments, alongside the erosion of cartilage and bone, which can lead to deformity. This usually affects the hands and feet and can make movement difficult. With proper management, this can be avoided in chronic sufferers, but early detection is definitely key.
If you’re no longer bouncing out of bed in the morning, you could be suffering from joint stiffness. Usually at its worst immediately after you wake up, joint stiffness can affect how well you move and delay your progress in the morning. Treatment usually helps reduce this symptom.
Inflammation usually means a part of your body has expanded or filled with excess fluid when it’s not supposed to. This leads to some pretty nasty pain, but also tenderness. Any joint filled with fluid is going to be uncomfortable without the added pressure from outside, so anyone who touches your RA affected joints is going to cause more pain for you.
One of the first symptoms to look out for in children who suffer with RA, limping is caused by problems with the joints in the legs and feet. Whether this is due to pain, inflammation, swelling or a bit of everything, walking can be painful and imbalanced at any age.
Often stated as the strangest symptom of RA, joint heat is when the joint becomes abnormally warm to the touch. While you might not be able to cook an egg using your wrist, this heat comes from the inflammation caused by RA and can become worse as the disease progresses.
Active Rheumatoid Arthritis means your joints will be inflamed and this can hurt – a lot. A thickened synovium plus excess fluid can send your pain nerve signals into a frenzy. This can lead to pain during movement and even during rest, which is basically constant pain.
Range of Movement Problems
Range of Movement is something we rarely think about – until we don’t have it fully anymore. In RA sufferers, swelling and inflammation can lead to reduced range of movement, and in long-term sufferers this can be permanent. It’s important to let your clinician know of any range of movement changes you experience.
If the swelling is bad enough on your joint, you might notice some redness. This is due to expanding capillaries dealing with the shock of the increase in size, and is very common in RA sufferers. This doesn’t happen with all inflammation, however you might notice it most around the smaller joints in your hands and feet.
One of the biggest problems with Rheumatoid Arthritis is how it uses your energy. From the constant pain, the swelling and fever to the anemia, these symptoms can drain your energy and cause fatigue. If you’re not eating enough, this tiredness can get worse, very quickly.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can develop at any age, and while the symptoms above can be scary, it’s important to realise that correct treatment and advice from a Rheumatologist can help you manage your condition and even return you to a normal way of life.
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