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Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in knee

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  • Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders as the disease progresses
  • Once these rheumatoid arthritis symptoms manifest, a checkup with a health professional or a rheumatologist is needed ASAP

Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which may vary in severity, include:1

  • Tender, red, warm and swollen joints2
  • Pain that affects joints on both sides of the body
  • Appearance of rheumatoid nodules, or lumps that are visible under the skin3
  • Decreased joint range of motion or loss of function altogether
  • Limping
  • Joint deformities
  • Morning stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

According to the Mayo Clinic, these indicators often manifest in a patient’s wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders, although they may target the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys and blood vessels as well. Usually, RA symptoms appear then disappear during certain periods. Flare-ups, a period of intense pain followed by relative remission, may also occur.4

If you or someone you know shows any of these symptoms, a checkup with a health professional or a rheumatologist is needed as soon as possible.5

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?

The diagnostic process for RA can take quite some time, as one test or exam is not enough to accurately determine an RA case, especially if the disease is still in its primary stages. As such, patients may need to undergo multiple tests. Furthermore, some RA symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, making it difficult for health professionals to accurately determine the cause of your pain. “Full” RA symptoms may also take time to manifest in the body.6,7

The first step of RA diagnosis entails the physician or rheumatologist doing a physical examination that will involve:

  • Checking for indications of joint swelling, stiffness, redness and warmth
  • Inspecting for presence of joint fluid or tender areas near or around the joint
  • Testing joints’ range of motion by moving them back and forth

Afterward, your doctor may check your body temperature, look for swollen glands, and inspect your reflexes, eyes and throat too.8

Blood tests may also be recommended, as these can help measure the extent of inflammation and quantities of antibodies present in the patient’s body. According to Arthritis Research U.K., these blood tests can show if you’re anemic and may be used to detect rheumatoid factor (RF), a type of antibody produced by a reaction in your immune system. If the results are high, it means inflammation is present.

Some of the most common blood tests RA patients may need to undergo include the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test, C-reactive protein (CRP) test, or the anticyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) test. In particular, if someone gets a positive test result for the anti-CCP rest this may mean that he or she has a high risk for developing RA.

In some cases, an X-ray may be an option too, as it allows the physician or rheumatologist to view joint damage mainly caused by inflammation. These negative effects linked to RA are typically seen in x-rays of the feet, before manifesting in other joints.9 A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may also be used to check for bone damage that X-rays cannot show.10 Ultrasound scans can be used as well to inspect for severity of RA.11


Rheumatoid Arthritis: Introduction

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis Types

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevention

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Hereditary?

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Versus Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet

Rheumatoid Arthritis FAQ

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