Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms - Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms And Diagnosis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease which would basically cause chronic inflammation of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can perhaps also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as in different organs of the body. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are attacked by mistake by their own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization of cells and antibodies designed normally in order to seek and destroy the invaders of the body, particularly infections.

Patients with autoimmune diseases have antibodies in their blood that accidentally target their own body tissues, where they can be associated with inflammation. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes known by the term, rheumatoid disease. While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness, meaning it can last for several years, patients may even experience long periods without symptoms.

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis generally come and go, depending on the degree of tissue inflammation. When body tissues are inflamed, the disease is most likely to be active. When tissue inflammation subsides, the disease becomes inactive. Remissions can occur spontaneously or even with treatment and can last for weeks, months, or years. During remissions, symptoms of the disease disappear, and patients generally start to feel well. When the disease becomes active again which is a relapse, symptoms return. The return of disease activity and symptoms is known as a flare.

When the disease is active, symptoms can include leading to fatigue, loss of energy, lack of appetite, low-grade fever, muscle and joint aches, and also stiffness. Muscle and joint stiffness are usually most noticeable in the morning and after periods of a certain amount of inactivity. Arthritis is quite common during disease flares. Also during flares, joints tend to become red, swollen, painful, and tender. This occurs because the lining tissue of the joint becomes inflamed, resulting in the production of an excessive joint fluid or synovial fluid. The synovium also thickens with the inflammation.

In rheumatoid arthritis, multiple joints are usually inflamed in a symmetrical pattern where both sides of the body are affected. The small joints of both the hands and wrists tend to be involved. Simple tasks of daily living, such as turning door knobs and opening jars, can become difficult while having flares. The small joints of the feet are also usually drawn in. Occasionally, only one joint is swollen. When only one joint is concerned, the arthritis can mimic the joint swelling caused by other forms of arthritis, such as gout or joint infection.

Chronic soreness can cause damage to body tissues, including the cartilage and the bone. This leads to a loss of cartilage and attrition and weakness of the bones as well as the muscles, resulting in joint defect, destruction, and loss of function. Rarely, rheumatoid arthritis can even affect the joint that is in charge for the tightening of our vocal cords to change the tone of our voice, the cricoarytenoid joint. When this joint is inflamed, it can cause roughness of the voice.

Since rheumatoid arthritis is a universal disease, its inflammation can influence organs and areas of the body other than the joints. Swelling of the glands of the eyes and mouth can cause aridity of these areas and is referred to as Sjogren's syndrome. Rheumatoid inflammation of the lung lining leads to chest pain with deep breathing, shortness of breath, or coughing. The lung tissue itself can also become red-looking, scarred, and sometimes nodules of inflammation develop within the lungs.