Many people develop arthritis, which is inflammation of the joints that cause stiffness or pain, as they age. However, there is a form of arthritis, called rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis, his or her immune system overreacts and attacks its own joints with antibodies. Rheumatoid arthritis can strike at any age, and it can be quite painful without the proper treatment. Patients who have rheumatoid arthritis should see a rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis at this time, there are several forms of treatment to help control it. Some common signs that a person may have rheumatoid arthritis include the following:
Stiffness on a Regular Basis
When someone has rheumatoid arthritis, he or she will experience flare-ups, meaning that they will not have symptoms all of the time. As a person develops rheumatoid arthritis, it is not uncommon to experience pronounced stiffness for multiple days in a row. Your whole body may feel stiff upon waking up, and you may experience stiffness after sitting for an extended period of time. The stiffness can continue throughout the day.
Joint Pain and Inflammation
Rheumatoid arthritis can be very painful and uncomfortable. Some people may experience joint pain all over their body, while others may have pain in specific joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the joint pain and inflammation often occurs on both sides of the body. For example, if your right wrist hurts, there is a good chance that your left one will as well. In the event that you experience ongoing joint pain and inflammation and you have not sustained any type of injury, it is in your best interest to make an appointment to see an experienced rheumatologist.
Most people lead very busy lives, so it is not uncommon to feel overly tired from time to time. However, if you're developing rheumatoid arthritis, one of the earliest symptoms may be general fatigue that does not go away even if you get enough sleep and rest on a daily basis. It can be very difficult to feel fatigued and generally unwell for an extended period of time. A number of conditions can cause fatigue, but if you have been experiencing fatigue and then develop any joint pain or stiffness, it is in your best interest to seek medical care. A rheumatologist will run a series of tests in order to diagnose you rheumatoid arthritis, and then he or she will discuss your treatment options.