Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms
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Unfortunately arthritis can be very painful for some people with the condition, and may impact people of all ages. The NHS explains that living with arthritis can sometimes mean carrying out everyday tasks that can often be painful and difficult. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis aims to slow the condition’s progress and minimise joint inflammation.
The Mayo Clinic says fatigue, fever and loss of appetite are possible signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
It explains it is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints.
“In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.”
The organisation says that other signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity.
The Mayo Clinic says that about 40 percent of people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints.
It says that areas that may be affected include:
- Salivary glands
- Nerve tissue
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels.
It advises that people make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent discomfort and swelling in your joints.
The NHS says there may be periods where symptoms become worse, known as flare-ups or flares.
“A flare can be difficult to predict, but with treatment it’s possible to decrease the number of flares and minimise or prevent long-term damage to the joints,” it notes.
The health body adds that diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis quickly is important, because early treatment can prevent it getting worse and reduce the risk of joint damage.
It explains: “There’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment enables many people with the condition to have periods of months or even years between flares.”
It says this can help them to lead full lives and continue regular employment.
The health body warns rheumatoid arthritis can put you at a higher risk of developing other conditions, particularly if it’s not well controlled.
“If rheumatoid arthritis is not treated early or is not well controlled, the inflammation in your joints could lead to significant and permanent damage.”
The NHS says if you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll usually be offered a combination of DMARD tablets as part of your initial treatment.
“These medicines ease the symptoms of the condition and slow down its progression,” it says.
It adds: “Sometimes, despite taking medicines, your joints may still become damaged. If this happens, you may need surgery to help restore your ability to use your joint.”
The health body says it is important to take your medicine as instructed, even if you start to feel better, as medicine can help prevent flare-ups and reduce the risk of further problems, such as joint damage.
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