Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints. You may think of rheumatoid arthritis as affecting only the joints in the hands and fingers but it can also affect one's elbows.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also attack the joints in the knees, ankles, or feet. A person who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for a number of years may also find that his or her neck is affected as well.
When making a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, a doctor will be looking for symptoms that are present on both sides of the body (symmetrical pattern). You may have rheumatoid arthritis if you are experiencing the following:
It is said that rheumatoid arthritis makes the joints hot, red, and swollen. This combination of symptoms is known as inflammation.
Another symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is stiffness. The affected joints simply don't work as well as they once did. Rheumatoid arthritis can reduce the range of motion of affected joints. A number of people with the disorder find that the stiffness is most pronounced first thing in the morning and gradually lessens as the day goes on.
Pain is the body's way of signaling that something is wrong. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the pain can be caused by inflammation. The level of pain with rheumatoid arthritis will vary, depending on the individual.
Other Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Other symptoms that go with this disease are as follows:
Fatigue or Lack of Energy Muscle pain Loss of appetite and/or Weight Loss
With these types of symptoms, it is not uncommon for a person to think that they have the flu. The symptoms that directly affect the joints are what lead doctors to make a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
A person with rheumatoid arthritis does not necessarily have symptoms of the disease all the time. It is possible for them to go into remission. Being in remission does not mean that the person is cured; it does mean that he or she in not experiencing inflammation at the present time.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Researchers have not been able to determine the precise cause of rheumatoid arthritis. There does appear to be a genetic factor to the disease. Certain genes do appear to influence whether or not a person develops rheumatoid arthritis. It is possible for a person without any genetic predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis to develop symptoms, though. The answer to what causes the disorder is more complicated than strictly genetics.
A person's environment may also influence whether or not they develop rheumatoid arthritis. It is possible that genetic factors may make certain people more likely to develop the disorder. Something in the environment acts as a trigger. Scientists are investigating whether a virus or a bacterial infection may be responsible.
Yet another theory about the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is that hormones play a role in the disorder. Women tend to develop the disease more than men. During pregnancy, symptoms may subside only to flare up again post-delivery.
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