Ra Symptoms In Your Joints
RA almost always affects your joints. It may take a few weeks or months for the first signs to show. The inflammation it causes often leads to these three hallmark symptoms:
- Pain.Inflammation inside a joint makes it hurt whether youâre moving it or not. Over time, it causes damage and pain.
- Swelling. Fluid in the joint makes it puffy and tender.
- Tenderness. It hurts when you move or push on a joint.
Other RA symptoms include:
- Stiffness. The joint is harder to use and doesn’t move as well as it should. Itâs especially common in the morning. Although many people with other forms of arthritis have stiff joints in the morning, it takes people with rheumatoid arthritis more than an hour before their joints feel loose.
- Redness and warmth. The joints may be warmer and have color changes related to the inflammation.
What Joints Does Ra Affect
RA usually starts in your hands. The most common affected areas on your body are:
Extreme fatigue could be a sign of anemia, a lack of healthy red blood cells. Your doctor will test for this as part of your RA diagnosis.
Depression could also cause some of these symptoms. A long-term disease like RA can be challenging to live with. Talk to your doctor if you feel sad or down.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Living And Dealing With Fatigue
People with rheumatoid arthritis typically have several permanently inflamed joints. The inflammation inside the body can lead to general physical weakness, drowsiness and exhaustion. This feeling of extreme tiredness is also called “.” Some people find this to be the worst symptom of the disease.
Other typical symptoms are joint pain and swelling, and also joint stiffness and physical weakness later on. Non-specific symptoms like exhaustion often start earlier on in the disease. But the symptoms and course of rheumatoid arthritis can vary greatly. People also deal with the disease in different ways. Although people experience their symptoms differently and cope with the disease in different ways, there are some things that many people with rheumatoid arthritis have in common.
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What Causes Fatigue In Rheumatoid Arthritis
Several factors cause rheumatoid arthritis fatigue. One of these factors is the disease itself. Inflamed tissues release chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines normally help the body attack bacteria and viruses, but in people with rheumatoid arthritis, these cytokines cause the body to attack healthy tissue. However, the excess cytokines still create the same worn-down tiredness people experience during a bout of a cold or the flu.
See what Rheumatologist Dr. Ashira Blazer says about fatigue and RA.
Anemia is also common in people who have rheumatoid arthritis anywhere from 10 percent to two-thirds of people with RA have the condition. Anemia is a lack of red blood cells. The inflammation rheumatoid arthritis causes also limits red blood cell production. Without enough red blood cells, people with rheumatoid arthritis arent able to get enough oxygen into their blood, causing tiredness.
Joint pain also can make it difficult to participate in physical activity, which creates a vicious cycle. The less physical activity you participate in, the more likely you are to feel chronic fatigue, which makes it even harder to get up and get moving. A lack of physical activity may also cause sleep apnea, which can contribute to fatigue.
Treat Arthritis Pain And Other Symptoms
Chronic pain alone can cause fatigue. Pain also can lead to depression and mood changes that can worsen fatigue. To control fatigue, it’s important to have pain well-managed. Talk to your healthcare provider about drug and non-drug techniques for effective pain management.
Higher-than-normal levels of cytokineschemical messengers involved in inflammationhave been found in the blood of those suffering from fatigue.It’s important to control inflammation and monitor active inflammation.
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How Fast Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Progress
Clinical History. The typical case of rheumatoid arthritis begins insidiously, with the slow development of signs and symptoms over weeks to months. Often the patient first notices stiffness in one or more joints, usually accompanied by pain on movement and by tenderness in the joint.
Solve Your Sleep Problems
In a vicious cycle, RA fatigue can contribute to depression and physical inactivity, which can lead to poor sleep, which then leads to more daytime tiredness. Poor quality sleep and nighttime awakenings have been linked to fatigue in RA patients, Dr. Singh says. Improving sleep may help prevent the development of fatigue in RA. Talk to your doctor about addressing pain or other issues that may be keeping you up at night. For one patient, a solution might be a splint to wear at night so the pain of carpal tunnel doesnt keep waking them, Dr. Goodman says. Also, make sure you sleep in a cool, dark room, turning off electronics at least an hour before bedtime, and avoid caffeine.
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Describes Some Of The Pain She Has Experienced With Her Ra And How Sometimes You Need To Go
Pain also increased fatigue and people described tiredness and lack of energy as significant symptoms of RA. People had to rest more, either in the daytime or by going to bed earlier, or sometimes for much of the weekend if they worked during the week . This reduced their time to do other things particularly their social life. Pacing activity helped but often people felt they hadn’t got the will power to do things when they were feeling generally tired and unwell.
Some of those people taking anti-TNF alpha medication said they were now less tired and had more energy .
Fighting The Fatigue Of Ra
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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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.
Current Care For Fatigue
There are no published studies on current care for RA fatigue. In a yet unpublished, postal survey about knowledge, attitude and current management of RA fatigue among 232 British and Dutch rheumatology nurses and 110 Dutch rheumatologists, it was shown that healthcare professionals have accurate knowledge of and a positive attitude towards RA fatigue. With regard to the management of fatigue in daily practice, the results revealed two main findings. First, rheumatology nurses seldom refer patients to other disciplines although they believe that other team members could help the patient with fatigue. Second, rheumatologists pay attention to fatigue in the first consultation and less often during follow-up consultations.
A combined qualitative and quantitative study, in which 20 patients were videotaped during their out-patient consultation at the Department of Rheumatology revealed four major results. First, patients more often use implicit cues instead of explicit concerns related to fatigue. Second, fatigue is communicated in almost all consultations with nurse specialists and in less than half of the medical consultations. Third, it is rather the patient than the healthcare professional who raises the issue of fatigue during the consultation. Fourth, in general, nurse specialists use more adequate responses to patients cues or concerns about fatigue than rheumatologists do.
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What People Living With Arthritis Want Others To Know About Fatigue
Heres what some CreakyJoints members want their friends and family to know about their pain and fatigue:
- Were not unreliable. But sometimes our pain and fatigue prevent us from attending events.
- Symptoms like fatigue can make it seem like we arent fully present. But we are paying attention and want to engage with you.
- Please cut us some slack as we want to spend time with loved ones and hope you want to spend time with us.
Prevalence Course Severity And Predictors Of Fatigue
Due to differences in definition and instruments to measure RA fatigue, prevalence rates between 42% and 80% have been found . Measured with the CIS, 40% of RA patients experience persistent severe fatigue, a level of fatigue that is comparable with fatigue as experienced by patients with CFS .
In studies on correlates and predictors of fatigue contradictory results were found. The first question is, is fatigue related to disease activity? In some studies, the evidence for the relation between disease-related variables and fatigue is found. In other studies, higher levels of fatigue were associated with increased depressive symptoms, pain, disturbed sleep, increased physical effort, gender or psychosocial factors . Although these variables are not directly disease related, the question remains unanswered about the indirect relation between these items, e.g. disturbed sleep may be related to disease activity and as a consequence also related to fatigue. A combination of variables might be the underlying mechanism for RA fatigue. However, no prospective study has included all these variables. In spite of the sometimes inconsistent findings, consensus on the large impact fatigue has on quality of life in RA patients exists .
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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Flares
Get more information about what flares of RA symptoms have shown researchers and how it could help you better communicate with your doctor and manage your condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of ups and downs. One day, your joints feel pretty good. The next, swelling and pain ratchet up and you can barely get out of bed. These symptom episodes called flares can be unpredictable and debilitating. Because symptoms differ from person to person, doctors have had trouble agreeing on a standard definition to guide them in treating flares. New RA research hopes to develop tools to help doctors and patients bridge these gaps in understanding.
Take A Midday Stretch Or Walk Break If You Can
Jewell S., a 37-year-old yoga teacher, uses her lunch break to get in some type of movement. Midday walks in the park or around my neighborhood help to refresh me and fight off fatigue and lubricate my feet, knee, and hip joints, she tells SELF. On days when she is too busy to go for a walk, Jewell takes a short stretch break instead. Sometimes is as simple as taking a tech break and doing a wrist and finger stretch. Simple movements like bending and straightening my fingers, knees, ankles, and toe joints for a few repetitions help a lot, she says.
Whenever possible, Sandra B., CEO and founder of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation, takes a walk as soon as she begins to feel tired. I stop what Im doing and go for a walk, the 57-year-old tells SELF. I feel so much better once I start being active. If the weather is crummy or walking outside feels too overwhelming, then Sandra will take a few laps around her house. Just 15 minutes of movement make a difference , she says.
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Rest Before And After Particularly Active Days Whenever Possible
Its been 12 years since Creaky Joints volunteer Elisa C., 55, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and making sure she has plenty of downtime before and after busy days is one of the habits that have helped her most in that time.
If Im going to have a fun day with my husband at the park, I know to plan several days for that, she tells SELF. For her, that can mean doing food prep in advance and freezing meals so that she doesnt use up too much energy cooking the day before her planned activity. She also plans on having a rest day filled with naps and just taking it easy, after her activity day, Elisa says.
Although you cant always anticipate every single event that pops up, this can be helpful to try whenever you make plans in advance. Or you can try to modify this by scheduling a quick 20-minute nap or fitting in a few rest breaks whenever possible in the days after a super-hectic time.
Why Does Ra Cause Fatigue
Antibodies that cause the inflammation of RA affect your central nervous system, not just your joints. High inflammation levels can lead to severe fatigue.
RA also causes long-term pain. It can leave you feeling worn out by the end of the day. But when your joints hurt, its hard to sleep. RA fatigue makes it hard to feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning.
When you have RA, fatigue, pain, and mood problems can become a vicious cycle. Doctors think high levels of inflammation might cause all three of these symptoms.
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What State Has The Best Weather For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Where are the best places to live with arthritis? Grand Junction, Colorado. Salt Lake City, Utah. El Paso, Texas. San Diego, California. Palm Springs, California. Destin, Florida. Baltimore, Maryland. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Even if the weather in Minneapolis is not the most osteoarthritis-friendly, the healthcare sure is.
General Joint Pain And Stiffness
In addition to morning joint stiffness, you may also experience general joint stiffness throughout the day, especially after a period of inactivity.
Some of the first areas RA stiffness typically affects are the wrists and certain joints in the hands and feet, but its also possible to experience pain and stiffness in your knees or shoulders. Usually, both sides of your body will be affected.
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How Can I Prevent My Rheumatoid Arthritis From Getting Worse
Take these steps to improve your odds of avoiding long-term trouble. Get treated early. Much of the damage that eventually becomes serious starts soon after you learn you have RA. See your doctor often. Exercise. Rest when you need to. Use a cane in the hand opposite a painful hip or knee. If you smoke, quit.
Invest In Assistive Devices
RA is notorious for making simple household tasks more challenging, which might be causing you to expend extra energy. So take help where you can get it by using specialized devices such as zipper pulls, shoe horns, and electric can openers and reachers to reduce RA fatigue. Assistive devices make everyday life a bit easier and help to maintain independence, which is key for a patient with rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Singh says. They do help conserve energy and lessen the pain. An occupational therapist can help you find tools and tricks to avoid difficult twisting and turning hand motions.
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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis is a general term for inflammation in joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body , which helps distinguish it from other types of arthritis.
In addition to affecting the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may occasionally affect other parts of the body, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, nerves, or kidneys.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that patients immune system is overreacting against itself. The result can cause some or all of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Be Aware Of Medication Side Effects
While it is necessary for most arthritis patients to take medications to treat pain and other symptoms, drowsiness is a common side effect of many of these drugs. Pain medications, some NSAIDs, DMARDs, and tricyclic antidepressants are among the medications that list drowsiness as a known side effect. If the medications are part of a daily regimen, drowsiness may add to already-present fatigue.
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Inflammation: A Potential Link Between Fatigue Depression And Pain
Although fatigue, stress or depression, and pain have complex and various mechanisms of action, some inflammatory cytokines are found associated with these three domains, so inflammation may be their potential link. The association between these symptoms has been documented in various medical conditions: classical inflammatory diseases such as rheumatic diseases, cancer or infections but also CFS, metabolic disorders or depression, which exhibit low-grade inflammation .
Some authors found that in RA, fatigue, mood disorders and pain are clinically associated IL-1 level was higher in cerebrospinal fluid of patients than controls and the increased level was correlated with fatigue . Biologic treatments are efficacious and can decrease levels of markers of inflammation such as CRP tocilizumab is especially efficacious because of its action on IL-6 involved in the synthesis of CRP . Thus, decreased systemic inflammation could be one of the mechanisms of action improving fatigue, pain and mood disorders.
Moreover, in a cohort of 1,466 European patients with advanced cancer, increased CRP level was associated with pain and fatigue . In ovarian cancer patients, diurnal and nocturnal cortisol and plasma IL-6 levels decreased during the first year following surgery, and this decrease was associated with decreased fatigue and depression .