Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Flu-like Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms 

Rheumatoid Arthritis patients usually suffer flu-like symptoms due to chemical substances in their blood which are dumped there due to an overly-aggressive immune system. Flu-like symptoms include constant low-grade fevers, muscle pain and weakness, lack of appetite, and extremely easily depleted energy levels.

Morning stiffness is an almost universal symptom, often used in the diagnosing of RA. However, RA joints also become stiff after any period of stillness, such as a car ride or mealtime.  Rheumatoid nodules may form under the skin, especially around the joints. Sjogren’s syndrome is particularly common (dry eyes and mouth), often leading to sores, infections, or vision problems. Fatigue is considered a hallmark: absolute exhaustion is often reached before evening, making even mundane chores or personal hygiene too difficult to complete in the evening. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis pain

Of course the defining symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis is pain. Rheumatoid Arthritis joint pain is extremely sharp and intense; it feels like an appendage is being sawn off. Most of the time, joint pain is symmetrical: when the left knee hurts, so does the right one.  Sometimes, the pain is constant for several hours to several weeks in the same area, but it can also come as a sudden stabbing pang for which is it impossible to brace one’s self. 

Since there can be pain in every joint, a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient can become aware of joints that were previously not known by him to even exist: such as where the ribs attach to the sternum. Another example is the heel: excruciating heel pain does not sound like Rheumatoid Arthritis, until one learns that the heel is not actually has three parts, with vulnerable connective tissue.  Sometimes, there are only 3 or 4 joints hurting at one time, but other times, there are a dozen or more. 

Pain is also not limited to joints. Connective tissue and muscles being damaged by RA can also hurt. Organ involvement can also cause pain. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis disability

The onset of joint and muscle weakness is sudden and appalling. Overnight, an otherwise healthy individual can become unable to lift objects weighing less than a pound. The wrist, elbow, or shoulder just falls under the weight of a glass of water or a hairbrush. 

Many are suddenly unable to dress or wash without assistance. Sometimes, walking can be either difficult or impossible. However, a cane may be out of the question for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients because they should not hold firmly onto anything with their disabled hand, much less put their weight upon it. If a wrist cannot support the weight of a cup of coffee, it cannot support the weight of a person to lean upon it! 

Rheumatoid Arthritis joint noises

As the disease moves through the joints, seemingly methodically, there are often popping-type noises that come from the joints. In some patients, it can even be predicted which joints will next be affected with the RA by the loud sounds which begin to emanate from those joints days or weeks ahead of the pain. And again, in Rheumatoid Arthritis, the onset is almost always symmetrical.  Later in the development of the Rheumatoid Arthritis, the sounds can change to creaking, as in a knee; clicking, especially in the neck; or grinding, in ball joints like shoulders. The sounds are often accompanied by a sensation of displacement, looseness, or unsteadiness. 

Cricoarytenoid Arthritis and RA

In spite of all those noises, however, Rheumatoid Arthritis patients actually become quieter for another reason. The joints inside the vocal cords, the Cricoarytenoid joints, become inflamed and stiffened, just like other joints do. Sometimes, the voice will just disappear for a few hours or a few days as in laryngitis. The mouth is still moving, but the sound is gone, like a mute button is turned on.

Cricoarytenoid Arthritis can make swallowing more uncomfortable. In severe cases, the airway may become obstructed, making breathing difficult so that it is actually more life-threatening than amusing. At least one-third of Rheumatoid Arthritis patients experience at least the characteristic hoarseness.  However, autopsy studies show that 87% of Rheumatoid Arthritis patients actually have Cricoarytenoid involvement, many without having complained of symptoms, at least according to their medical charts.

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