Sunday, April 14, 2024

How Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Make You Feel

What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Really Feel Like

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Signs & Symptoms | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Living with rheumatoid arthritis is more than joint pain. Its a chronic pain, accompanied by many other symptoms, that often gets worse over time. Symptoms can come at inconvenient times without any warning which makes them difficult to manage. But what people think RA feels like and what it actually feels like are often two different things.

Dont Take It Personally

Recognize that feeling tired can be a part of having RA. If you experience this symptom, understand that its not weakness on your part. Fatigue is something that many with RA experience.

Its important to understand this and to make any necessary changes, rather than deny the fatigue youre experiencing. If youre realistic about your condition and symptoms, youre more likely to lessen or overcome your fatigue.

How Can We Reduce Fatigue

Like so many things in life, its better not to go it alone. There are things that can be done by your doctor, friends, family, and even your workplace, that can help you in your day to day life.

Your doctor can:

  • Suggest lifestyle changes that may improve your energy.

You can:

  • Make a to-do list and cross off the least important things.
  • Do some exercise exercise supports the joints.
  • Eat healthy. Get your protein for strong muscles and carbs for energy.
  • Check out CBT and learn how to reframe your mindset.
  • Talk to your boss at work perhaps you could work from home or change your hours.
  • Try to ask for help when you need it people cant always see or know when you need help.

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What Kind Of Treatment Could Help Against Fatigue

Sometimes is still a major problem despite adjusting your daily schedule, doing physical exercise and getting support from other people. Then professional help may be an option, for instance in the form of psychological treatment or occupational therapy. Some specialized programs have been developed specifically for people who have fatigue as a result of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. They’re designed to do things like help you plan activities and make sure you don’t use up all of your energy at once.

Cognitive behavioral therapy strategies can also be learned to help cope with . Some involve recognizing and then changing certain thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that make it more difficult to live with the disease.

Studies on non-drug treatments show that approaches used in occupational therapy and psychotherapy can relieve exhaustion.

Numbness And Tingling Sensations

Zilaxo Advanced Pain Solution: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Inflammation from RA can cause nerve compression, which can affect the nerves around the joints. This can cause a person to develop damaged nerves, called peripheral neuropathy.

This nerve damage can cause a loss of sensation, and people may experience numbness or a tingling sensation in their hands and feet.

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Recurrence Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue

A couple of days ago an old friend came to visit: Rheumatoid Arthritis fatigue. All of a sudden on Monday afternoon, it felt like it was 2 a.m. and I should be in bed. It looks like it may want to stay over for awhile.

At first, I thought I was just over-tired. That evening when I fell asleep early, I blamed the half glass of wine with dinner. The next morning, I was blaming myself for working too hard intellectual not physical work, mostly.

Finally, after another day of it, I recognized my old enemy Rheumatoid Arthritis fatigue.

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First: Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Not Just Arthritis

What does rheumatoid arthritis feel like? The short answer is: Its more than just joint pain. But here is my longer answer.

We all experience pain at some point in our lives maybe weve fallen off our bike, got hit by a ball while playing sports, cut ourselves while cooking, or got decked over the years by our siblings. Pain comes in many different forms. We try our best to avoid pain unless were a boxer, into S& M, or looking to get a new tattoo, but at least that pain has an end, right?

Well, my pain doesnt go away, in fact, its quite progressive. Since my mid-twenties Ive been experiencing chronic pain among other surprising symptoms due to the systemic autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis. My journey with chronic pain is a long incurable one that requires different medications and self-care strategies to find some quality of life.

Dont let misconceptions fool you. Arthritis is more common than you think for any age.

More often than not people are surprised to find out I live with a chronic illness. Theyre even more surprised when I start to describe what my chronic illness does to me, because I look healthy and young and there are many misconceptions about what arthritis really is. More often than not, I am told I am too young for arthritis or it could be worse. Im also met with oh, my grandmother had that in her finger.

I can assure you that rheumatoid arthritis is more than joint pain and it definitely impacts on not only the elderly.

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How Does Arthritis Feel

Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.

The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.

When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.

It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.

Arthritis can make it hard to do the movements you rely on every day for work or taking care of your family.

Fighting The Fatigue Of Ra

5 Warning Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis dont stop at joint pain and swelling. Most people with RA also experience mental and physical exhaustion, a symptom known as fatigue. Studies show that up to 80% of people with RA have at least some sense of feeling run down, and more than 50% have high levels of fatigue.

Terence Starz, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the feeling can be described as overwhelming or different from just being tired because it is extreme and seems to come from nowhere. In fact, fatigue may have a greater impact on daily life than pain.

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The Signs And Symptoms Of Ra

Luckily, the signs and symptoms of early onset RA ARE heavily documented. Experts agree that the most common initial symptoms are as follows:

  • You begin to experience a general feeling of pain or stiffness in your joints.
  • Your joints begin to swell or turn red on a regular basis even when youre not engaged in heavily physical activities.
  • These symptoms extend to four or more of your joints, including those in your hands and fingers.
  • Your symptoms are symmetrical meaning that they equally affect both the left and right sides of your body.
  • You experience a general sense of stiffness in your entire body when you wake up in the morning that often lasts for a half hour or more.
  • Any of the above physical symptoms last for longer than six months in a row.

If you begin to experience any of these initial signs, you should absolutely consult your doctor to schedule a physical examination. Dont continue to ignore your body. Its trying to tell you something is wrong. Outside of the symptoms directly associated with RA, there are a number of indirect signs to be on the lookout for, too. These include, but are not limited to, ones like:

How Does A Normal Joint Work

A joint is where two bones meet. Most of our joints are designed to allow the bones to move in certain directions and within certain limits.

For example, the knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most complicated. It must be strong enough to take our weight and must lock into position, so we can stand upright.

It also has to act as a hinge, so we can walk, and needs to twist and turn when we run or play sports.

The end of each bone is covered with cartilage that has a very smooth, slippery surface. The cartilage allows the ends of the bones to move against each other, almost without rubbing.

The joint is held in place by the synovium, which contains thick fluid to protect the bones and joint.

The synovium has a tough outer layer that holds the joint in place and stops the bones moving too far.

Strong cords called tendons anchor the muscles to the bones.

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Is Sleep A Factor

Some studies report an apparent association between the number of sleep problems one has and the level of fatigue. However, other studies indicate that a relationship between sleep problems and fatigue isnt significant.

This means that a person with RA can get enough sleep, or even quality sleep, and still experience fatigue.

Whats known is that fatigue can impact prognosis and it also seems that lifestyle changes can help people better cope with and manage fatigue.

A study published in August stated that Fatigue is a key contributor to increased clinical care costs, primary care consultations, and employment loss. Despite this, our understanding of the prognostic of factors of poor fatigue outcomes is lacking and fatigue is poorly managed.

The available data appears to implicate generic factors such as pain, mental health, disability, and sleep as consistent predictors of fatigue outcome while the role of disease activity and inflammation seems less clear, the study authors wrote. However, the existing data are not without methodological limitations and there have been no specific studies primarily designed to investigate the inflammatory biomarkers of fatigue.

The researchers also found that broad factors such as disability, mood, and pain appear to amplify or drive fatigue in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fatigue also plays a role in a persons ability to keep working.

Another vicious cycle is that of exercise.

How Do These Struggles Compare The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tips for Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you can relate to these situations, then you can begin to understand what it feels like to have Rheumatoid Arthritis .

While it does involve âarthritisâ, or joint pain, itâs the ârheumatoidâ that gives the disease its defining characteristics. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic , autoimmune disease that affects the joints, connective and soft tissues, and sometimes organs.

Most patients will describe the symptoms as:

  • Dealing with an Injury. It causes pain similar to a sprained or broken body part, and comparable to the physical trauma felt after an accident. At times the inflammation and soreness is so intense a brace or other movement assistance equipment is necessary to perform even simple tasks, similar to wearing a sling or cast after an injury. And like a person who has taken a bad tumble, they may or may not actually look injured other than a slight limp or other internal physical struggles, but it does not mean they arenât experiencing disability.

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Ongoing Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness and people described different symptoms which they experienced whilst living with the disease, some of which were eased by the medication prescribed but others that persisted. Joint instability, inflammation and deterioration are all causes of pain and most people we interviewed had these in some form. Some people also have rheumatoid nodules which are bumps/lumps which can appear overnight on tendons and joints. Most commonly nodules on elbows and fingers were mentioned. These were not necessarily painful, sometimes disappeared on their own or required aspiration, a steroid injection or surgery for removal.People described pain in many ways’ extraordinary, incredible, absolute agony, excruciating, pumping, intolerable, burning, tingling, nervy, like toothache without the teeth, a raging fever, feet shouting at me etc. Many felt that the hardest thing about RA was having to ‘struggle against the pain’, ‘deal with the pain’ or ‘manage the pain’ on a daily basis. Ongoing, ‘grinding’ pain was debilitating, people couldn’t tackle problems, it sapped their energy and de-motivated them.One woman talked about the pain she had had and steeling herself against the pain to go through the pain barrier. People also said they had become used to the pain, learnt to cope with it and that their pain tolerance levels had been raised. Sometimes this was bad as they didn’t immediately notice more severe joint damage.

What Are The Risk Factors For Ra

Researchers have studied a number of genetic and environmental factors to determine if they change persons risk of developing RA.

Characteristics that increase risk

  • Age. RA can begin at any age, but the likelihood increases with age. The onset of RA is highest among adults in their sixties.
  • Sex. New cases of RA are typically two-to-three times higher in women than men.
  • Genetics/inherited traits. People born with specific genes are more likely to develop RA. These genes, called HLA class II genotypes, can also make your arthritis worse. The risk of RA may be highest when people with these genes are exposed to environmental factors like smoking or when a person is obese.
  • Smoking. Multiple studies show that cigarette smoking increases a persons risk of developing RA and can make the disease worse.
  • History of live births. Women who have never given birth may be at greater risk of developing RA.
  • Early Life Exposures. Some early life exposures may increase risk of developing RA in adulthood. For example, one study found that children whose mothers smoked had double the risk of developing RA as adults. Children of lower income parents are at increased risk of developing RA as adults.
  • Obesity. Being obese can increase the risk of developing RA. Studies examining the role of obesity also found that the more overweight a person was, the higher his or her risk of developing RA became.

Characteristics that can decrease risk

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What Are The Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently. In some people, joint symptoms develop over several years. In other people, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms progress rapidly. Many people have time with symptoms and then time with no symptoms .

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Pain, swelling, stiffness and tenderness in more than one joint.
  • Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods.
  • Pain and stiffness in the same joints on both sides of your body.
  • Fever.

What To Do If You Have Malaise

What are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis?

Malaise can be a warning sign of a larger medical issue, or an unpleasant side effect of living with chronic illness. Either way, it is important to let your health care provider know when youre experiencing this unpleasant feeling. They will be able to run tests and offer treatments to help you through.

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What Types Of Lifestyle Changes Can Help With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Having a lifelong illness like rheumatoid arthritis may make you feel like you dont have much control over your quality of life. While there are aspects of RA that you cant control, there are things you can do to help you feel the best that you can.

Such lifestyle changes include:


When your joints are inflamed, the risk of injury to your joints and nearby soft tissue structures is high. This is why you need to rest your inflamed joints. But its still important for you to exercise. Maintaining a good range of motion in your joints and good fitness overall are important in coping with RA.


Pain and stiffness can slow you down. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis become inactive. But inactivity can lead to a loss of joint motion and loss of muscle strength. These, in turn, decrease joint stability and increase pain and fatigue.

Regular exercise can help prevent and reverse these effects. You might want to start by seeing a physical or occupational therapist for advice about how to exercise safely. Beneficial workouts include:

  • Range-of-motion exercises to preserve and restore joint motion.
  • Exercises to increase strength.
  • Exercises to increase endurance .

Helping People Around You Understand Fatigue

Fatigue is a major symptom of many conditions, such as arthritis often its as much of a problem as pain and inflammation. But its an invisible symptom and a lot of people avoid talking about it because they think their family, friends and colleagues wont understand.

It can be stressful if you think people around you dont understand how youre feeling. Even when you explain, some people may struggle to realise how fatigue affects you and that it stops you doing certain activities. This can be frustrating and tiring and can put a big strain on your relationships. Getting help, support and understanding from the people around you can make a huge difference.

Good communication and explaining clearly and calmly how fatigue affects you is important to help others understand.

Its ok to say that you need help with tasks around the home.

Learning to say you cant do something or go somewhere because of the way it will affect you can help. It may also reassure people that sometimes you just dont feel up to socialising and its no reflection on their company.

If people ask for your help with something, remember its ok to say no. Its ok to put yourself first.

If you find it difficult to talk about your fatigue, you could ask people to read this information.

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