Rheumatoid Arthritis Signs And Symptoms
Its true that everyone experiences pain and inflammation from time to time, but rheumatoid arthritis is different. For instance, the pain from RA lasts years and usually affects both sides of the body equally. Similarly, if both feet and both hands hurt all the time, its a sign that you may have RA.
Other Causes Of Hand And Finger Symptoms
RA hand symptoms can mimic those of other conditions, such as osteoarthritis. Some members of myRAteam discovered their hand pain was actually related to secondary Raynauds disease, a vascular condition that affects 10 percent to 20 percent of people with RA. Psoriatic arthritis, another autoimmune disease, can also cause hand and finger dysfunction as can pinched nerves in the neck.
A rheumatologist can diagnose the specific cause of symptoms in the hand with a physical exam and X-rays. X-rays can detect narrowing of joint space or erosions of the bone that could signal RA. Ultrasound and MRI technology has improved the ability to spot joint damage earlier in the course of the disease.
How To Get Rid Of Arthritis In Fingers
Arthritis of the fingers can be quite uncomfortable, causing symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. These symptoms make hand motions like grasping and pinching difficult, which restricts a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two types of arthritis that most commonly affect the finger joints. Depending on which type of arthritis affects your finger joints, you may experience additional symptoms.
Thankfully, numerous remedies can help alleviate the discomfort from arthritis of the fingers, from hand exercises to help strengthen your fingers to over-the-counter and prescription pain medications and surgical treatments.
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Can Arthritis In The Hand Be Prevented
Arthritis cant be prevented. However, you can watch for symptoms of arthritis as you age and see your healthcare provider if you notice changes in your joints. You can also take steps to control factors that you can control. Eat healthy to nourish your body and maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts more stress on your joints. Dont smoke. Smoking increases your risk of arthritis.
Is It Arthritis In My Hand Or Tendonitis
Arthritis and tendonitis can mimic each other, so its important to understand the difference between the two. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons in your hand due to an injury or repetitive motion, and the pain can come and go suddenly or last for a few days.
Arthritis, however, is inflammation of the joint due to degenerative joint disease. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis , when the protective cartilage in the joint breaks down, and rheumatoid arthritis , when immune system attacks the joints. Early symptoms of arthritis include painful hand joints, burning sensation and decreased functionality of the hand and/or wrist.
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Home Remedies For Arthritis But Only One Works
Arthritis is a common disease affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of new cases are identified each year in the United States.
When you are suffering from arthritis, it quickly becomes clear that its not just joints that are affected. RA can also cause severe fatigue, fevers, weight loss, anemia, in addition to causing additional problems throughout the major organs . Sufferers often experience dry mouth, dry eyes, shortness of breath, damaged nerves, malaise, and small skin lumps, just to name a few.
So, how do you get relief? If you would prefer not to take prescription medications nor undergo surgery, there are several natural home remedies that have some reported rates of success in treating symptoms of RA. Want to know whats so great about these methods, in addition to getting some relief from your symptoms? The products used in these natural remedies are very easy to find. The following seven treatments are the most common homeopathic remedies. Bear in mind that response to these remedies will be different for each individual as the disease presents and progresses differently in each individual. Make sure to discuss with your doctor any home remedies that you are considering as they may interact with your body and prescription medications in ways that you did not realize.
Meditation For Pain Management
Meditation is an ancient mind and body practice that goes back to Buddhism and other Eastern religions. It puts your focus and attention on the current moment and not letting lifeâs distractions get in your way.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, meditation can promote âcalmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.âï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ And research shows meditation can be helpful for managing chronic pain associated with conditions like OA and RA.
A 2011 article in the medical journal Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America looked at the possible benefits of meditation on people with rheumatological diseases like RA and OA, which the author cites as the most significant causes of chronic pain.ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿
The reportâs author further argues that while mind-body therapies can be effective for managing pain, only about 20% of people with chronic pain use them. This 2011 piece also discusses an older study that found only eight weeks of mediation therapy improved pain in people with RA.
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Signs Your Hand Pain Is Not Due To Rheumatoid Arthritis
Pain and stiffness in the hand are hallmark signs of rheumatoid arthritis, but these symptoms can stem from many other different conditions.
Sometimes, it can be very difficult to make the distinction of whether current symptoms in the hand are from ongoing inflammation, from damage or another condition like OA, or a whole other entity, says Dr. Albayda.
Some clues that your hand pain may not stem from rheumatoid arthritis include:
Signs And Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand
Stiffness, swelling, and pain are symptoms common to all forms of arthritis in the hand. In rheumatoid arthritis, some joints may be more swollen than others. There is often a sausage-shaped swelling of the finger. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the hand include:
- A soft lump over the back of the hand that moves with the tendons that straighten the fingers
- A creaking sound during movement
- A shift in the position of the fingers as they drift away from the direction of the thumb
- Swelling and inflammation of the tendons that bend the fingers, resulting in clicking or triggering of the finger as it bends, and sometimes causing numbness and tingling in the fingers
- Rupture of tendons with loss of ability to straighten or bend certain fingers or the thumb
- Unstable joints in the wrist, fingers, and thumb
- Deformity in which the middle joint of the finger becomes bent and the end joint hyperextended
- Hyperextension at the middle joint of the finger associated with a bent fingertip
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Risk Factors For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Several factors can predispose you to develop RA, including:
- Genes: People with a family history of RA are slightly more prone to it, but inherited factors dont play a major role in its development.
- Environment: Toxic substances, such as air pollution, chemicals, smoke, and insecticides, can negatively affect the body, often contributing to joint pain in patients with RA.
- Hormones: More women are seen to be affected by RA than men. This could be indicative of a link between female hormones and RA.
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Researchers suggest that poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, obesity, and poor health can undermine ones immune system, and thereby pave the way for autoimmune diseases such as RA.
How Does Ra Affect The Hands And Fingers
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joint lining or synovium the tissue that produces fluid to help joints move smoothly. The resulting stiffness, swelling, joint damage, and deformities make it difficult to use the hands. When joint damage becomes severe, it can lead to complete loss of joint function and the need for joint replacement surgery.
RA typically starts in the small joints of the hands. Joints most commonly affected are the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints better known as knuckles. RA hand symptoms can include:
- Creaking sounds during movement
- Overextended middle joint and bent fingertip
- Thumb flexing at the MCP joint and hyperextending at the PIP joint
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What Are The Complications Of Ra
Rheumatoid arthritis has many physical and social consequences and can lower quality of life. It can cause pain, disability, and premature death.
- Premature heart disease. People with RA are also at a higher risk for developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. To prevent people with RA from developing heart disease, treatment of RA also focuses on reducing heart disease risk factors. For example, doctors will advise patients with RA to stop smoking and lose weight.
- Obesity. People with RA who are obese have an increased risk of developing heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Being obese also increases risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Finally, people with RA who are obese experience fewer benefits from their medical treatment compared with those with RA who are not obese.
- Employment. RA can make work difficult. Adults with RA are less likely to be employed than those who do not have RA. As the disease gets worse, many people with RA find they cannot do as much as they used to. Work loss among people with RA is highest among people whose jobs are physically demanding. Work loss is lower among those in jobs with few physical demands, or in jobs where they have influence over the job pace and activities.
Possible Complications Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
In general, patients with RA have frequent comorbidities, that is, other chronic disorders that complicate their overall health.
- Patients with RA have reduced healthspan and lifespan.
- RA increases the risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol, even beyond the usual factors.
- Patients with RA also have about twice the risk of lymphoproliferative diseases, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
- Some of the medications used for RA treatment may result in adverse effects and can increase the risk of infection or kidney problems, thus requiring close monitoring.
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About Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Hand
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the cells that line and normally lubricate the joints . This is a systemic condition , which means that it may affect multiple joints, usually on both sides of the body. The joint lining becomes inflamed and swollen and erodes the cartilage and bone. The swollen tissue may also stretch the surrounding ligaments, which are the connective tissues that hold the bones together, resulting in deformity and instability. The inflammation may also spread to the tendons, which are the rope-like structures that link muscles to bones. This can result in stretching out of and ruptures of the tendons. Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand is most common in the wrist and the finger knuckles .
Types Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Due to a lack of knowledge about the cause of RA, it is difficult to classify the disease completely.
As different patients exhibit varying progression rates and symptoms, the disease is currently classified into seropositive or seronegative RA. This basic and primary classification can help determine treatment options.
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Questions For Your Doctor
- How do I know if my joint pain is caused by rheumatoid arthritis?
- Does RA run in families?
- What medicines would work best for me, and what are the side effects?
- Is there anything I can do to prevent flare-ups of RA?
- What are the pros and cons of surgery to treat RA?
- Does RA affect my life expectancy?
What Can Be Done For Ra Pain
It should be stressed that adequate suppression of inflammation is the first step in managing RA pain. However, since the pain in RA may have multiple causes, a combination of treatments is often required. Most patients who have RA will be familiar with many of the treatments listed below:
A. Non-drug therapy for pain
B. Drug therapy for RA pain
The usual drugs used for treating the inflammation of RA are:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen
- disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs , including methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine or sulfasalazine the biologics including anti-TNF or anti-interleukin 6 therapies, rituximab and abatacept and JAK inhibitors
- corticosteroids .
Most studies of RA focus on anti-inflammation therapies, and in large studies, it is not always practical to work out how much of an individuals pain is due to tendon and osteoarthritis pain.
It is uncommon to find one drug that relieves all arthritis pain for any one person. The medications commonly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, including that associated with RA, are:
This is commonly used for joint pains, although it seems to have only mild joint pain-relieving effects. It is generally safe in doses up to 2 grams daily. Very high doses or high regular use together with heavy alcohol intake can lead to liver damage.
OTHER MEDICATION OPTIONS
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis Of The Elbow
Symptoms of elbow arthritis can include:
- Pain. In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, pain may be primarily on the outer side of the joint. Pain generally gets worse as you turn your forearm. The pain of osteoarthritis may get worse as you extend your arm. Pain that continues during the night or when you are at rest indicates a more advanced stage of osteoarthritis.
- Swelling. This is more common with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Instability. The joint isn’t stable and gives way, making it difficult or impossible to do normal daily activities.
- Lack of full movement. You are not able to straighten or bend the elbow.
- Locking. Your elbow joint catches or locks. This can happen with osteoarthritis.
- Stiffness. This happens particularly with arthritis that develops after an injury.
- Pain in both elbows. Having pain in both elbows or pain at the wrists or shoulders as well as pain in the elbows is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.
Hand Surgery For Ra May Become Less Common
Physicians expect that recent improvements in medications for rheumatoid arthritis will reduce the need for corrective surgeries in the hand.3 The sooner steps are taken to prevent joint damage the better the chances for avoiding hand surgery.
There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but symptoms in the hand and wrist can be managed with home and medical care andin some casessurgery.
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Who Should Diagnose And Treat Ra
A doctor or a team of doctors who specialize in care of RA patients should diagnose and treat RA. This is especially important because the signs and symptoms of RA are not specific and can look like signs and symptoms of other inflammatory joint diseases. Doctors who specialize in arthritis are called rheumatologists, and they can make the correct diagnosis. To find a provider near you, visit the database of rheumatologistsexternal icon on the American College of Rheumatology website.
Who Treats Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diagnosing and treating rheumatoid arthritis requires a team effort involving you and several types of health care professionals. These may include:
- Rheumatologists, who specialize in arthritis and other diseases of the bones, joints, and muscles.
- Primary care providers, such as internists, who specialize in the diagnosis and medical treatment of adults.
- Orthopaedists, who specialize in the treatment of and surgery for bone and joint diseases or injuries.
- Physical therapists, who help to improve joint function.
- Occupational therapists, who teach ways to protect joints, minimize pain, perform activities of daily living, and conserve energy.
- Dietitians, who teach ways to eat a good diet to improve health and maintain a healthy weight.
- Nurse educators, who specialize in helping people understand their overall condition and set up their treatment plans.
- Mental health professionals, who help people cope with difficulties.
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Arthritis Hands Early Symptoms
Types of Arthritis in the Hands. Both osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis can cause pain, stiffness , swelling, and tenderness of the joints in the hands. But people with inflammatory forms of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis may display additional symptoms that arent seen in those with OA.
Who Gets Arthritis In Their Hands
You are more likely to get arthritis in your hands if:
- Youre older. Osteoarthritis is commonly seen after age 50. Rheumatoid arthritis typically first appears between the age of 35 and 50.
- Youre a woman.
- Youre white.
- Youre overweight.
- Youve had previous injuries to your hand. If youve dislocated or broken any joints in your hands or fingers, you are more likely to develop arthritis.
- You’ve inherited genes that cause the development of arthritis.
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What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis In The Hands Feel Like
When your hands are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience swelling around the affected joint, which leads to pain or tenderness. The joint may feel warm to the touch. Swelling tends to be symmetrical, which means it occurs in the same joints on both right and left hands.
Stiffness with immobility is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis in the hands as well, says Lindsay S. Lally, MD, a rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Symptoms like stiffness and pain are usually worse in the morning, and can last at least 30 minutes or more.
Together these hand symptoms can impair function and the ability to go about your daily routine and tasks.
This can manifest in difficulty using the fingers, decreased hand dexterity, inability to bend or straighten affected joints, and decreased strength, says Dr. Albayda. Sometimes RA can cause loosening of ligaments and tendons in the hands, resulting in permanent deformities of the hand, adds Dr. Lally. Evidence suggests that hand deformities commonly occur in the first year of rheumatoid arthritis if it goes untreated.
Some specific hand problems and deformities that can be caused or made worse by rheumatoid arthritis include: