Chronic pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness are all issues that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are familiar with. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is estimated to affect 1.3% of adults in the United States, is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects a person’s joints. Although it can come and go, the condition generally affects the hands, knees, and other joints of the body.
When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, swelling in the joints isn’t the only thing patients should be looking for. Because it’s an inflammatory condition, rheumatoid arthritis can cause various and seemingly unrelated problems throughout the entire body, not just the joints. At her Beverly Hills office, Susan Baker MD specializes in treating RA and other autoimmune disorders, and has compiled a list of six symptoms you should never ignore!
1. Joint Pain
Joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. When a joint becomes inflamed, it becomes sensitive and tender to the touch. If left untreated, this inflammation can even begin to cause joint damage, increasing the amount of pain felt by patients. If you’re suffering from joint pain, it’s possible that RA may be the root cause of your problem.
2. Chest Pain/Shortness of breath
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect blood vessels throughout the entire body, including the heart. People with RA are at a greater risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues. Additionally, shortness of breath could be a sign that something is wrong, such as a lung infection or inflammation. If you frequently find yourself running out of breath or suffering chest pain, please call a rheumatologist as soon as possible.
3. Numbness in the hands
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of the connective tissues in your hands or feet, leading to painful sensations of tingling or numbness. Though this swelling can occur in any part of the body, it’s more common around the wrists. When tissues in the hands are being compressed, it’s referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. Reduced range of motion
Sometimes, the swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis can be so severe that it causes joints to lock up, unable to be moved. This happens because the tendons surrounding a joint have become so inflamed that joint movement is rendered nearly impossible. A locked joint in the knee can be mistaken for a meniscus tear, so proper diagnosis by a rheumatologist is important when dealing with locked joints and reduced range of motion.
5. Dry red eyes
Patients with RA have an increased risk of Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that commonly affects the eye and mouth. Sjögren’s syndrome affects the tear glands of the eyes, causing dryness and redness of the eyes.
If occurring simultaneously as joint pain, numbness, and inflammation, a fever could be a warning sign that you have RA. Because rheumatoid arthritis patients have an immune system that has been compromised by the disease, infections and fevers are more common than in patients without RA.
Other signs and symptoms of RA include general fatigue, dry mouth, morning stiffness, and loss of appetite.
Contact Dr. Baker Today!
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that should not be ignored. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed on this page, it’s possible that you may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Contact rheumatologist Dr. Baker today to schedule a consultation at her Beverly Hills office. During this consultation, Dr. Baker with perform various tests to correctly diagnose and begin treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Call (310) 274-7770 or fill out an online contact form today!
Next, read these 6 Common Questions About Arthritis.