What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which is where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues. This particular disease attacks the lining of your joints and causes inflammation, which can lead to pain, stiffness and fatigue. It is, however, also a systemic disease that can affect your body’s entire system, including your organs.
Where osteoarthritis generally affects people in older age, rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately, this means that the symptoms can often go undiagnosed and are sometimes put down to other lifestyle factors, particularly where symptoms most commonly involve joint pain, stiffness and swelling. Other symptoms, however, can involve fatigue, sweating, lack of appetite or chest pain.
Common Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) recommends that the important signs and symptoms to be aware of are:
- Pain, swelling and possibly redness around your joints. Hands and feet are often affected first, though Rheumatoid Arthritis can start in any joint.
- Stiffness in your joints when you get up in the morning or after sitting for a while, which lasts for more than 30 minutes and has no other obvious cause.
- Fatigue that’s more than just normal tiredness.
If you have any of these symptoms, go and see your GP. The sooner Rheumatoid Arthritis is diagnosed and treated, the better the long-term outcomes are likely to be.
What is the difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis?