Learning about rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms
Last week, I asked followers of my Facebook Page to share about first rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms before diagnosis. This is a question we’ve discussed several times over the years, and readers have taught me so much when I ask it. You have led me to dig deeper in reading research and participating in some as well.
With RA Warrior’s 10th birthday tomorrow, let’s look at some of the things you taught me about rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms.
Confusion about rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms
What is the reason many people with rheumatoid disease have written stories like the ones shown in the screenshot below? Why don’t many doctors know? Their textbooks or mentors gave them some bad information about rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms. Let’s look at some common ideas.
Doctors are often taught these myths about rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms
- The disease starts in the hands.
- Joints are always swollen or red if they are affected.
- The spine (or jaw or ribs…) are not affected.
- RA rarely affects organs.
- Treatments work the same or work well on most people.
- Blood tests are the best indicator of disease activity.
- Patients exaggerate about the disease.
Basic facts on rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms
From our community, I’ve also learned some basic facts on what to actually expect:
- Almost any symptom can come first, joint or non-joint.
- Family history is a good clue.
- Suspect RA at any age. 40 is a peak diagnosis age, but most already had symptoms for years.
- The disease is usually symmetrical, but not always synchronized.
- Blood tests can be positive early or lag behind.
- Various scans are usually normal early in the disease except highly sensitive ones.
- Visible symptoms can be very fickle, and change in moments.
Living with rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms
Finally, here are a few things I’ve learned the hard way—by living through it.
- You can have a milder form of the disease for decades and not realize it.
- Treatments can slow progression, even if they don’t improve symptoms.
- There’s almost always something that can help the pain, so keep trying.
- Deformity can happen overnight. Hence my t-shirts that say “I woke up like this.”
- People usually have no idea what we’re going through or how much we struggle.
- Even symptoms that seem hopeless can eventually improve at least somewhat.
- Ice works wonders to reduce inflammation, but it takes a while and it’s not fun.
WOULD YOU LIKE A CHANCE TO SHARE ABOUT HOW RA / RD IS TREATED & WHAT MATTERS TO PATIENTS? STAY TUNED FOR A SHORT SURVEY THAT’S PART OF A RESEARCH COLLABORATION BY MAYO CLINIC & RHEUMATOID PATIENT FOUNDATION.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT RA /RD THAT SURPRISED YOU.
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