Rheumatoid arthritis (commonly called RA) tends to begin slowly with minor symptoms that come and go, usually on both sides of your body, and then it progresses over a period of weeks or months.
Symptoms of this chronic disease vary from person to person and can change from day to day. Bouts of disease activity are called flare-ups, while inactive periods are called remission.
You may feel unusually fatigued well before any other symptoms become obvious. Fatigue can precede the onset of other symptoms by weeks or months. It may come and go from week to week or day to day. Fatigue is sometimes accompanied by a general feeling of ill health or even depression. Don’t forget. We’re talking about early signs of arthritis.
Morning stiffness is often an early sign of arthritis. Stiffness that lasts for a few minutes is usually a symptom of a degenerative form of arthritis and something that you need checked via an examination at the office. Stiffness that lasts for several hours is generally a symptom of inflammatory arthritis, and is typical of RA. You may also feel stiffness after any period of prolonged inactivity like napping or even just sitting.
Stiffness in one or more of the smaller joints is a common early sign of RA. This can occur at any time of day, whether you are active or inactive. Typically, stiffness begins in the joints of your hands. It usually comes on slowly, although it can come on suddenly and affect multiple joints over the course of one or two days.
Joint stiffness is often followed by joint tenderness or pain during movement or while at rest. This also affects both sides of the body equally. In early RA, the most common sites for pain are the fingers and wrists. You may also experience pain in your knees, feet, ankles, or shoulders.
Mild inflammation of your joints is typical early on: your joints may appear bigger than they usually do. This swelling also can cause joints to feel WARM to the touch. Flare-ups can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and is a pattern that can be expected to increase with time.
Subsequent flare-ups may be felt in the same joints or in other joints. If you have any of these symptoms, call the office today and get checked. It’s always better to catch something like this ahead of time, vs waiting for it to go away which it doesn’t. Call the office now.