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What are usually the first signs of rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the tissues of the joints. This can lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness, and over time it may cause damage to cartilage, bone, and other parts of the body as well.

The first signs of rheumatoid arthritis typically include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, usually in the same joint on both sides of the body. This can occur most frequently in the hands and feet, but can affect any joint in the body.

Other symptoms may include a low-grade fever, fatigue, redness and warmth around the joint, loss of joint range of motion, eye redness or eye pain, a general feeling of malaise, nodules under the skin, and anemia.

RA is a chronic, progressive disease, which means that it will not just go away. It often starts with mild symptoms that may come and go. Over time, if untreated, the symptoms can become more severe and long-lasting, potentially leading to surgical intervention and disability.

Early diagnosis and treatment is important to help manage symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

What does rheumatoid arthritis feel like at first?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be difficult to detect initially, as its symptoms can vary from person to person. For some people, the first signs of RA are pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, usually in the wrists, hands, feet, and ankles.

The joints may also be red, tender, and warm to the touch. There may also be fatigue, general aches and pains, a low-grade fever, and loss of appetite. In some cases, people may have a hard time getting out of bed and completing their everyday activities.

Over time, more severe joint damage and deformity can occur if the disease is not treated. It is important to note that RA is a systemic disease, meaning it impacts the whole body, leading to tiredness, anemia, weight loss, and even shortness of breath.

Can a blood test detect rheumatoid arthritis?

Yes, a blood test can detect rheumatoid arthritis. It is important to get this test done because it helps to accurately diagnose and track the severity of the disease. Blood tests can help to detect markers for rheumatoid arthritis such as rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP).

These markers are important to diagnose and monitor the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Having these markers present can be used to diagnosis the disease and if they are elevated, it can indicate an increase in disease activity.

Additionally, getting a blood test can help to identify other conditions that may mimic rheumatoid arthritis, such as lupus, as well as any other underlying factors that can affect the disease. It is important to note that blood tests alone are not sufficient for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctors will typically also rely on physical examinations, imaging such as X-rays, and a review of a patient’s medical history to make an accurate diagnosis.

How long can you have rheumatoid arthritis without knowing?

It is possible for a person to have rheumatoid arthritis for a length of time without knowing, as early signs and symptoms of the condition can be subtle and difficult to pinpoint. It is believed that once the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis begin to present, the person likely had the condition for at least two to three months prior.

Furthermore, due to the nature of the disease where it can remain dormant in some people, they may not experience any symptoms, or only mild symptoms, for many years or even decades and not realize they have the condition.

That is why it is important to see a doctor if you have any unexplained pain, tenderness, stiffness or swelling in your joints, symptoms that are common in rheumatoid arthritis but can also have other causes.

Your doctor can help determine the cause of the symptoms and the best treatment plan for you.

How do doctors tell the difference between arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis?

Doctors can tell the difference between arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by performing a physical examination and various tests. During a physical exam, the doctor may pay close attention to joint swelling, tenderness, and range-of-motion.

The doctor may also order blood tests to detect rheumatoid factor (RF) and other inflammatory markers as high levels of RF is associated with a higher likelihood of rheumatoid arthritis. Additional tests, such as imaging scans or X-rays, may be ordered to help determine the extent of any joint damage.

A joint fluid aspiration (with a needle) may be necessary for an accurate diagnosis. Other tests that may be performed include an anti-CCP antibody test, which looks for proteins found in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, or an esr test which measure inflammation in the body.