10 Early Warning Signs of Arthritis
Detecting the early signs of arthritis is very important. Especially since it is among the most notorious causes of disability in the United States that roughly 23% of adults, with half of them aged 65 and older, being affected. Because of this, people with the disease have to deal with pain and inflammation virtually all the time, in addition to dealing with its negative effect on their life as a whole. There is no cure up to date. There are treatments though that aim to lessen the symptoms, make the most of the joint function, and avoid further joint deformity and destruction.
There are different types of arthritis. In fact, despite the colloquial connotation of the word, arthritis is a wide category of diseases that involves pain, stiffness, and swelling or inflammation in the joints. There are actually 60 various conditions that are under this category; the most common, however, are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The former is an autoimmune illness where the body’s immune system attacks the tissue that lines the joint, leading to inflammation. This can damage the bone and cartilage over time. The latter, on the other hand, is a degenerative disease where the smooth cartilage lining in the joints wears and breaks down due to stress. Thus, the bones rub against one another leading to the aforesaid symptoms.
Signs of Arthritis – Pain
There are many ways joint pain can manifest. You may experience an intense and sudden stab of pain when you bend your knee as you go up or down the stairs. This is especially true for those who are overweight; feeling like an extra pound is added to your knees when the pain strikes. It also involves a sudden, and almost always an excruciating kind of a pain in the big toe, though this can happen to other joints. For some, however, the pain isn’t abrupt. It slowly builds up, with the joint becoming warm, red, and tender, then it fades away, only to go back some other time. Naturally, since you cannot force your mind to ignore the pain, you will stay awake at night, unable to fall asleep. The prospect of chronic pain also affects your daily activities, and even a simple one can become so overwhelming. Arthritis, in whatever form, is always accompanied by joint pain one way or another.
Signs of Arthritis – Redness, and Inflammation
Among the most easily noticeable and common symptoms of arthritis, whatever the type, is redness and inflammation, which is typically early on and is one of the main reasons of pain. The swelling of the joints can appear bigger than usual but can be so minimal at some time yet it’s both distressing all the same. The redness occurs alongside the inflammation that causes the capillaries in that area to widen out, creating what we call “dilated capillaries”. But this is not the case at all times since inflammation is often not enough to cause the tiny blood vessels to enlarge. One may also feel warmth in the area, even when the swelling isn’t apparent, especially when touched. This can increase over time and may last for a few days. This is also important for the doctors to monitor the activity of arthritis.
Signs of Arthritis – Numb, Tingling and Tenderness
The inflammation taking place on the joints will put pressure on the nerves surrounding the area. When that happens, a sensation of numbness ensues. Since the inflammation affects the carpal tunnel tendons, the risk for CTS or carpal tunnel syndrome—a medical condition affecting the wrist and the whole hand, with symptoms also involving numbness, pain, and tingling—is likewise increased. This is most likely the case with those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Now, when the nerves eventually get irritated, the affected body part frequently becomes tender when touched. This is due to the compression brought about by the external pressure; with the pain stimulated by the compression occurring instantly.
Signs of Arthritis – Stiffness
When you find yourself being unable to easily move for at least half an hour (especially with rheumatoid arthritis) after you wake up, you are experiencing morning stiffness. This usually loosens up when you slowly start to stretch and may diminish over time when arthritis responds well to the treatment. The feeling though is still an affliction. Stiffness may also occur any time of the day after a long period of inactivity like sitting. It’s important to take note of the duration since doctors will use it to gauge the severity of the inflammation. The duration still lessens if the condition becomes more responsive to medication as well. If you have osteoarthritis, the stiffness tends to worsen when you use your affected joints more often than necessary. It otherwise tends to feel much better the more your move when having rheumatoid arthritis.
Signs of Arthritis – Odd Bumps Deformity
You will also notice some form of deformity happening due to chronic rheumatoid arthritis. This happens when inflammation is left unchecked and untreated. The cartilage, bone, along with the ligaments loosen up and undergo erosion. This may include small enlargements on the joints of your fingers or toes. This visual information will help doctors to diagnose the illness. This also shows how important early detection and treatment is to avoid a permanent joint deformity.
Signs of Arthritis – Fatigue
Another warning sign of arthritis is fatigue, particularly common in all stages of rheumatoid arthritis. It generally results from the body’s response to joint inflammation especially when it is active, inadequate amount of sleep, medications, and even anemia that is also a warning sign (see item no. 10). In addition, fatigue can also precede or take place, sometimes for weeks or months, even before the onset of any other symptoms. It usually involves a general feeling of lack of energy that may ebb and flow but is always there and often goes with an ill feeling and even a sense of unhappiness. If not properly addressed, it can bring adverse effects on the person’s mood and behavior, relationships, sexual drive, productivity, and overall sense of well-being, including weight loss aggravated by poor appetite.
Signs of Arthritis – Fever
The symptoms aforementioned concerning chronic fatigue or tiredness and any of the other warning signs discussed just above, if accompanied by a persistent or recurrent fever that seems to last for weeks, quite longer than a usual bout of flu, is already a clear indication of rheumatoid arthritis. It is expected considering that this type of arthritis affects the entire body as compared to normal arthritis that affects a particular joint. Although any fever higher than 38 degrees Celsius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit can most likely mean a different illness or infection. To sum it up, just look for a recurring low-grade fever that is combined with other symptoms of arthritis like joint pain and inflammation. These indicators may come unexpectedly or bit by bit.
Signs of Arthritis – Loss of Range of Motion
With joint inflammation, stiffness, numbness, and even deformity expect a limited, if not a total loss, of your range of motion. Obviously, the swelling within the joints leads to this; when the inflammation worsens and becomes more active, the ligaments and tendons in the affected area become deformed and unstable. Thus, you feel a type of weakness that will prevent you to bend or straighten your joints. In some serious cases of a longstanding rheumatoid arthritis, the loss of motion may become permanent. But at an early stage, it can be addressed through a regular and gentle exercise. Just endure the painful start.
Signs of Arthritis – Limping
Since the lower extremities do not function really well at some moments due to inflammation, loss of motion and all that, limping naturally happens. It is usually caused by many illnesses affecting the muscles, nerves, and bones, and rheumatoid arthritis is no exception to them. It can affect the various parts of the body where joints are located such as the knees and ankles, the hips and feet. With each step taken, a searing pain can be felt throughout the body, affecting every surrounding muscle and joint since the demand for them to compensate increases, making it a truly arduous experience.
Signs of Arthritis – Many Joints Affected, Both Sides of the Body, Loss of Joint Function, Anemia A
Many joints are usually affected by rheumatoid arthritis. This condition is called polyarthritis. Oligoarthritis meanwhile is when only a few joints are affected and is frequently the common scenario among children with arthritis. As aforesaid, anemia can also be a warning sign. This is because the inflammation brought on by arthritis will affect the production and release of red blood cells from the bone marrow and into the bloodstream. Other warning signs may include dry mouth; itchy, inflamed, or dry eyes that are accompanied by eye discharge; a general and recurring feeling of tiredness and the feeling of getting sick; chest pain; and many more. Always consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and possible treatment.