As promised, we continue with our Part 2 of our 3 part series on arthritis.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis Arthritis (OA)
Symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop slowly. There may be soreness or stiffness. At first that seems more like an annoyance than a medical issue. For some, the first signs of OA are joints that ache after exercise or physical work. As the disease progresses, the most common symptoms are:
- Pain in joints
- Tenderness or swelling in one or more joints
- Stiffness in joints that fades away after movement
- Flare-ups of inflammation or pain after use of the joint affected
- Sound of bone rubbing on bone when the joint is used
- Stiff or Sore joints – particularly the lower back, knees and hips — after overuse or inactivity
- Pain that gets worse toward the end of the day or after activity
Osteoarthritis may also affect the small finger joints, the neck, the base of the thumb, ankle, and the big toe. The pain may come and go, without affecting the ability to perform daily tasks. For some people who suffer from OA, the disease will never progress past this stage. Others will see their Osteoarthritis getting worse as time progresses. Some may have the stiffness and the pain becoming so severe that it may make it difficult to sleep, climb stairs, walk, or perform other daily jobs.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
As rheumatoid arthritis attacks the joints, they become inflamed. This is usually the body’s natural response to infections. If you experience some of the below mentioned symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor:
This is where the joint becomes harder to use and the range of motion is limited. A hallmark symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is “morning stiffness.” Pain and stiffness lasts for more than 1 hour (sometimes several hours) in the morning before the joints feel loose.
As fluid enters the joint, it becomes puffy causing the stiffness.
Inflammation occurs inside a joint making it tender and sensitive. As the inflammation continues, it will cause damage contributing to pain.
The joints that are being affected may become warmer and redder than the surrounding skin.
The joints that are almost always affected are hands, knees, wrists, neck, shoulders, feet, elbows, hips, and the jaw.
Other Symptoms of RA
The inflammation caused by RA leads to a wide variety of symptoms that affect the entire body such as fatigue, fever, malaise (general sense of not feeling well), appetite loss, and muscle aches. Some of the symptoms of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis include:
Rheumatoid nodules are small lumps that develop under the skin which vary in size and often appear on the elbows. About 25% of the people with RA suffer from this symptom, which can sometimes be painful.
Due to the damage of the lungs or inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs, shortness of breath may develop. This can be treated with certain drugs, which reduce the inflammation.
Also known as the voice box or larynx, RA can affect this joint causing hoarseness.
Some people (approximately 5%) with RA may experience symptoms in the eyes including red, painful and sometimes dry eyes.
You may also feel shortness of breath or chest pain due to inflammation in the lining around the heart. Also, people with rheumatoid arthritis may develop clogged arteries in their heart which can lead to chest pain and even a heart attack.
In part 3 of the arthritis series (also the last one), we shall explore in detail the best treatment options for arthritis sufferers. I will try to make it as informative as possible, so stay tuned.