Common Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Chronic pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness are all issues that patients with rheumatoid arthritis 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 persons 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 isnt the only thing patients should be looking for. Because its 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!
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Can I Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis
You cannot prevent rheumatoid arthritis because the cause of the disease is not known.
Quitting smoking, or never smoking, will reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. You are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis if someone in your close family has it, but unfortunately there is no way to reduce this risk.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis often experience flare ups, which are times when their joints are particularly sore. Learning what triggers your flare ups can help reduce or prevent them.
For some people, stress can trigger a flare up, so can being run down or pushing yourself beyond your limits. Having an infection, missing a dose of your medicine or changing your treatment plan can also cause a flare up.
Keeping a food and activity diary may help work out your personal triggers but keep in mind that sometimes flare ups happen without any obvious cause.
Doctors Explain Knee Arthritisincluding Symptoms Types And Treatments
If you experience swelling or inflammation of the knees, keep reading.
About 16% of people worldwide have knee arthritis, which, if left untreated, can lead to flare-ups of pain that reduce the ability to perform even the simplest tasks. Fortunately, though, experts say there are ways to manage the condition and get back to living a pain and stiff-free life. Keep reading to learn more about knee arthritis, including types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.
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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the joints. Within the body, joints are the points where bones come together and allow for movement. Most of these joints those called synovial joints also provide shock absorption.
RA is an autoimmune condition, in which your immune system mistakes the linings of your joints as “foreign” and attacks and damages them, resulting in inflammation and pain.
Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong disease. When its treated, it may go away for a little while, but it usually comes back. Its important to see your doctor as soon as symptoms begin. The earlier you start treatment, the better your outcome. Some of the damage from RA is irreversible, so finding the disease and treating it early is very important.
If left untreated, RA can cause other health problems. Your hands may become bent or twisted. Other joints can become deformed. Inflammation will affect your cartilage and bones. Lung and heart problems also can occur. Talk to your doctor if you notice any new symptoms or problems.
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How Knee Pain Can Affect You
Knee pain is more common as you get older, due to years of wear and tear, if you are overweight , or if you play sports. Because your knees are vital to movement, knee pain can stop you from playing sports and make it difficult to carry out simple activities, such as walking and climbing stairs.
*Knee : Images, Function, Ligaments, Muscles. 2016. Knee : Images, Function, Ligaments, Muscles. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/knee-pain/picture-of-the-knee. . ** GSK Global Pain Index Research 2014 full report p. 47
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Can You Have Both Palindromic Arthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Q) I was very interested in the article about palindromic rheumatism and felt that after 25 years of pain, disability and frustration I was finally reading something which explained my symptoms.
I had two years of flare-ups in my joints before getting a positive rheumatoid arthritis blood test. Over the years Ive had longer term swelling in joints which have led to damage. However, the pain and pattern is totally different to the original flare-ups.
Over the years Ive continued to suffer the flare-ups regularly while blood tests show the rheumatoid arthritis to be largely under control with methotrexate. I spoke to my nurse about a diagnosis of palindromic rheumatism, but she told me that you cant have both.
I understand that the treatments are the same, but Ive become frustrated with the rheumatologist describing these flare-ups as if theyre nothing more than moans about normal everyday pains suffered by the general population. Can you have both? Does palindromic rheumatism continue alongside rheumatoid arthritis or morph into it?
Susan, via email 2015
A) Really interesting question, thank you. Palindromic rheumatism is a challenging condition to live with and to diagnose. But from what you describe in your email it does sound as though you currently have rheumatoid arthritis with flare-ups, rather than palindromic rheumatism.
One of the big differences between the two conditions is that you dont usually see joint damage in palindromic rheumatism.
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What Are Heberdens Nodes
Heberdens nodes are bony outgrowths that occur on the joints nearest to the fingertips. The nodes often make the hands look crooked or knotty. The affected joint may be painful and stiff, but the node itself may or may not be painful to the touch. Ligaments and other soft tissues can occasionally be involved in Heberdens nodes, too.
Herberdens Nodes | Image courtesy of DermNet
Heberdens nodes occur when the cartilage between the affected joints has worn down and the bones of the joint have begun rubbing together directly. In addition to these nodes, you may experience:
- Stiffness and weakness in your hands
Heberdens nodes are similar to another type of bony growths known as Bouchards nodes. However, Bouchards nodes occur on the middle finger joints rather than those closest to the fingernail. Bouchards nodes are also significantly less common than Heberdens nodes.
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What Does It Mean When Your Side Knee Hurts
Fractured knee joints or tears of cartilage can be the source of knee pain. Aside from arthritis and gout, a variety of infections, as well as other conditions, can also cause knee pain. Self-care is effective in the treatment of a variety of minor knee pain. Physical therapy and knee braces can help alleviate pain as well.
Its common to feel sore on the inside or outside of your knee, and there are several causes for it. As the smooth and slippery cartilage covering the end of your thigh bone and lower leg bone thins and deteriorates, you may develop osteoarthritis of the knee. The internal compartments of your knees are collectively known as the ligaments, which runs from the femur to the tibia. This stability aids in the prevention of buckled knees due to its ability to keep the knee from cracking. An MCLP tear can occur when a twist, bend, or change of direction causes the tear to appear suddenly. A second commonly cited cause of focal pain on the outside of the knee joint is a tear of the lateral meniscal joint. Other symptoms of this type of cartilage damage can include numbness in your foot and tingling.
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Getting Prompt Treatment For Lupus Or Ra
If youve been experiencing symptoms of lupus or RA, its crucial to see your doctor as soon as possible.
If a diagnosis of RA is delayed, a lot of joint damage can occur, Dr. Agarwal says. And if lupus goes undiagnosed, you could experience kidney failure.
The good news, he adds, is that with such a wide variety of treatment options available for both conditions, RA and lupus are becoming easier to manage. Some medications are helpful for treating the two diseases, including NSAIDs, corticosteroids, anti-malarial drugs such as Plaquenil, and immunosuppressive medications like methotrexate.
Treatment varies more when RA and lupus are more severe: A person with RA may be treated with biologics, while someone with lupus would likely be treated with stronger immunosuppressive drugs, Dr. Agarwal says.
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What Is The Patients Role In Treating Or Managing Arthritis
The patient is the most important member of the health care team.
The patient plays an important role in his or her medical care. The patient can contribute to the success of a treatment plan by:
- learning about arthritis
- reporting progress and setbacks to health team
- keeping a positive attitude
- developing relationships with the rest of the health care team
Keeping a positive attitude, though sometimes difficult, is an important ingredient in overcoming arthritis. Asking questions and finding out as much as you can about of arthritis and its treatment is important. So talk over your concerns with your doctor. If you still need more information , ask the nurse, physical therapist, social worker, occupational therapist to help you find answers to your questions.
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What Are The Stages Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are five stages of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis that affects your knees:
- Stage 0 . If youre at stage 0, your knees are healthy. You dont have arthritis of the knee.
- Stage 1 . Stage 1 means that youve got some wear and tear in your knee joint. You probably wont notice pain.
- Stage 2 . The mild stage is when you might start to feel pain and stiffness, but theres still enough cartilage to keep the bones from actually touching.
- Stage 3 . If youre at the moderate stage, youll have more pain, especially when running, walking, squatting, and kneeling. Youll likely notice it after long periods of rest . You’re probably in a great deal of pain because the cartilage has narrowed even further and there are many bone spurs.
- Stage 4 . Severe osteoarthritis means that the cartilage is almost gone. Your knee is stiff, painful and possibly immobile. You might need surgery.
Your Knee Feels Swollen Or Misshapen
Inflammation is a classic hallmark of arthritis in the knee. Sometimes, the lining of the jointcalled the synoviumswells or fluid can build up in the area, notes the Arthritis Foundation. You may also notice a visible change in the shape of the knee. There isnt a lot of muscle right around the knee, so when the joint becomes inflamed, the bones can start to change shape, says Dr. Colvin. In severe cases, changes in the bone can cause people to walk with a different gait or even become bow-legged, notes Dr. Colvin.
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Dietary Modifications To Consider For Rheumatoid Arthritis
While there is a lot of interest in the role of diet and nutrition in symptom management for rheumatoid arthritis, there is no comprehensive research on the topic nor is there a dietary magic formula to fight RA symptoms.
But some evidence suggests that eating certain foods may help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms for some people, while other foods have been shown to worsen inflammation and related symptoms.
For instance, the ketogenic diet which is high in fats that promote inflammation and low in certain healthy grains, fruits, and vegetables that help fight inflammation is generally believed to be bad for RA symptoms and pain.
Frontiers in Nutrition,
What Is The Distribution Of Arthritis
As mentioned above, the first question a rheumatologist will ask you is whether the pain is actually in the joint or not. If it is in the joint, the distribution of pain offers more information. For example, if a person has either or both of the following, it suggests inflammatory arthritis, such as RA or lupus:
- Swelling in the joints where the bones of the fingers join with the bones of the hand
- Swelling of the entire wrist
Those joints are not usually involved in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis tends to occur in some joints where lupus arthritis is not common, such as the finger joints closest to the nails or at the thumb side of the wrist .
Figure 1: Swelling where the fingers meet the hand, and of the entire wrist are clues to an inflammatory type of arthritis, as in lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.Image courtesy of Theodore Fields, MD.
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How Can A Physical Therapist Help
Once you have received a diagnosis of knee OA, your physical therapist will design an individualized treatment program specific to the exact nature of your condition and your goals. Your treatment program may include:
Range-of-motion exercises. Abnormal motion of the knee joint can lead to a worsening of OA symptoms when there is additional stress on the joint. Your physical therapist will assess your kneeâs range of motion compared with expected normal motion and the motion of the knee on your uninvolved leg. Your range-of-motion exercises will focus on improving your ability to bend and straighten your knee, as well as improve your flexibility to allow for increased motion.
Muscle strengthening. Strengthening the muscles around your knee will be an essential part of your rehabilitation program. Individuals with knee OA who adhere to strengthening programs have been shown to have less pain and an improved overall quality of life. There are several factors that influence the health of a joint: the quality of the cartilage that lines the bones, the tissue within and around the joints, and the associated muscles. Due to the wear and tear on cartilage associated with knee OA, maintaining strength in the muscles near the joint is crucial to preserve joint health. For example, as the muscles along the front and back of your thigh cross the knee joint, they help control the motion and forces that are applied to the bones.
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Differences Between Ra And Oa
Although symptoms of knee RA may be similar to those of osteoarthritis, there are several distinct differences.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by wear and tear, and is usually localized to a specific joint. Over time, knee cartilage wears away, causing bone-on-bone rubbing and pain.
RA, on the other hand, is a chronic autoimmune disease that typically impacts multiple joints. It may eventually attack the knee joint, causing pain and swelling.
There are several additional differences that are important to know. OA typically arises in one side of the body. With RA, however, both knees would typically be swollen symmetrically.
In addition, OA pain is usually sharp and worsens later in the day after periods of prolonged activity. But with RA, pain and stiffness are often worse in the morning, triggered by lack of movement.
One myRAteam member with both conditions summed up her experience: OA pain feels like my joint is on fire, achy, and makes snap, crackle, pop sounds. The pain comes and goes, and is worse when I do too much. RA pain, on the other hand, feels like my joint is literally going to explode from a buildup of pressure. Its a sharp, nonstop pain inside the joint that sometimes freezes it .
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Whats The Outlook For Someone Living With Arthritis
Since theres no cure for arthritis, most people need to manage arthritis for the rest of their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right combination of treatments to reduce symptoms. One of the biggest health risks associated with arthritis is inactivity. If you become sedentary from joint pain, you may face a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.
Types Of Arthritis That Affect The Knee
Osteoarthritis is characterized by cartilage degeneration and bony protrusions called osteophytes . In the knee, the most common sites of osteoarthritis include the tibia , femur , and patella .
The most common type of arthritis affecting the knee is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when a joints articular cartilage breaks down. In the knee, articular cartilage covers the top of the tibia , bottom of the femur , and back of the patella .
Not everyone with knee osteoarthritis will get knee pain. Pain may occur if the loss of healthy cartilage:
- Causes the bones of the joint to rub against one another.
- Compromises the joints biomechanics in some other way.
See Knee Osteoarthritis Symptoms
Post-traumatic knee arthritisPost-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. It develops after a meniscus tear, ligament injury, or other trauma. The injury may heal but wear-and-tear on the articular cartilage can accelerate. Post-traumatic arthritis may not become symptomatic until years after the injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that targets the synovial membrane surrounding many joints of the body. Some of the most common areas affected include the wrists, knees, and ankles.
Knee pain can be caused by an autoimmune disease called rheumatoid arthritis . RA causes joint inflammation that can make the knee feel swollen, stiff, warm, and painful. Over time, untreated RA can cause permanent knee joint damage.
See What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis ?
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Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Knees
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If you are one of the approximately 1.3 million Americanswho suffers from rheumatoid arthritis , you need to know how your disease can affect your knees. The knees are one of the most common joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, although the disease tends to only affect the knees during the later disease stages.
Read on to learn exactly how rheumatoid arthritis affects the knee joints and about treatment options for knee complications that can occur in RA sufferers.