8 Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Do you have a painful ankle or elbow that you simply think “acts up” from time to time? Or do you have other pain that you’ve been chalking up to “normal soreness”? The truth is, you may be ignoring signs of something much more serious, like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Unfortunately RA signs are often ignored only because people are unaware of what to look for. Let’s take a look at 8 different Rheumatoid Arthritis signs to watch out for.   1. Injuries That Won’t Heal It is common for athletes and active people to shrug off and minimize their injuries. However, pain from an injury that won’t go away is one tell-tale sign of RA. Many people have multiple surgeries and undergo physical therapy on specific body parts—hoping to eliminate their pain. Little do they know, they may actually be suffering from something more chronic: RA.   2. Frequent Foot Pain It might be more than your tight shoes that are making your feet hurt. Many people attribute most or all of their foot pain to “being on their feet all day” or to wearing the wrong footwear. But the chronic pain in your feet could actually be due to inflammation caused by RA.   3. Dry-Eye Trouble Another risk associated with RA is a disease called Sjorgens syndrome—an autoimmune disorder that affects areas of the face including eyes, mouth, throat, or nose. This is due to inflammation. And it causes glands to stop releasing moisture, which causes dryness. If you have dry eyes, consult with your eye doctor and be sure to also discuss symptoms with other body parts. This is often the best way to identify RA early.   4. Numbness or Tingling in the Hands Have you ever hit your knee or elbow and had it go numb for a moment? If you frequently experience that same sensation in your hands, you may have RA. This is because one of the symptoms of the disease is carpal tunnel syndrome. The tingling effect is directly related to swelling within the arm which compresses nerves traveling to the hand. Doctors may diagnose this as just a case of carpal tunnel syndrome if you do not let them know of any other RA symptoms you have.   5. Frequent Joint Pain One of the biggest signs of RA is achy joint pain. Unfortunately, it is probably the most commonly ignored. Folks are quick to assume their joint pain is caused by overuse or that it is osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis. So how do you know when it might be RA? Keep an eye out for joint pain that is not only frequent and prominent, but also effects multiple joints simultaneously. For example, it can affect the knees and elbows at the same time!   6. Formation of Nodules Nodules appear near affected joints and are characterized as lumps that grow underneath the skin. They are common on the back of the elbow but have been reported in the eyes as well. Although nodules are more common in later stages of RA, they have been seen in earlier cases.   7. Morning Tightness Stiffness in the joints is a side effect of both osteoarthritis and RA. The key difference here is that, with osteoarthritis, after a long night of sleep, pain subsides in about a half hour. However, morning stiffness from RA can take hours to decrease.   8. Locked Joints With physically active individuals, locked joints are commonly mistaken for serious muscle tears. However, locked joints are another common side effect of RA. Inflammation and swelling of tendons around the joint can cause it to not bend easily, or at all. This can lead to cysts forming behind the joint that will further inhibit motion.   If you are experiencing a few of these symptoms, it will be in your best interest to go to the doctor for testing. It’s easy to mistake many of these symptoms as something less serious. So try to stay open-minded. Think you may have RA? Not to worry. There are millions of people living with RA and you can too. Start by getting checked out. And the sooner the better.   By Pat DeRiso Sources: health.com, healthline.com, mayoclinic.org    

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