Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which cells from the immune system attack multiple joints in the body. Symptoms of this polyarthritis include painful joints which can also be red and swollen.
Joint stiffness is another significant symptom of rheumatoid arthritis and it is usually worse in the morning. This rigidity lasts for at least one hour and it is associated with difficulties completing everyday activities. Movement generally becomes easier as the day progresses and the joints loosen up.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that rheumatoid arthritis affects joints on both sides of the body symmetrically. The most commonly affected joints are those of the hands, wrists and feet, although the elbows, knees, hips and shoulders can also be affected.
Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis according to Arthritis Research include fatigue, irritability, depression, weight loss and generally feeling unwell. The University of Maryland Medical Center also states that children with rheumatoid arthritis can develop a high fever, chills and a pink rash.
The Arthritis Foundation reports that these symptoms usually vary from patient to patient and from day to day. They usually begin insidiously though some persons develop periods of increased severe symptoms. These periods, which are known as flares, can last from a few days to several weeks.
The signs of rheumatoid arthritis include tender joints which are warm to the touch. They may also feel spongy or boggy.
Red eyes, which are caused by scleritis or inflammation of the blood vessels in the eyes, is another sign of this condition which can affect numerous organs in the body.
Rheumatoid nodules, which may be palpated by the doctor, are other signs of rheumatoid arthritis. These pea-size, fleshy lumps usually develop under the skin on the elbows, the hands and feet. In some rare situations they may become painful and infected, especially if they develop around the ankles.
Written by: Marian Kim, FizzNiche Staff Writer