Occasional pain in the joints is not unusual, especially if you are an active participant in vigorous activities. The pain could be caused by muscle injury, sprain, tendonitis, or injured tendons and ligaments. However, if you start developing routine aching, pain, and stiffness right at the joint, it may be a developing case of arthritis.
Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in the United States, affecting over 54 million individuals. Experts recommend watching out for early signs of arthritis and osteoarthritis. Below are some of the symptoms of arthritis that you may be ignoring.
Arthritis Vs. Osteoarthritis
Arthritis encompasses over 100 varying conditions affecting joints and the surrounding tissues. These conditions fall under two categories;
1. Inflammatory arthritis
Inflammatory arthritis is a systematic disease in which the body-protecting mechanisms attack your tissues and joints instead. Inflammatory/ Rheumatoid arthritis is the most popular example. Its main symptom is extended stiffness and aches in the morning when you wake up. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis is typically symmetrical, meaning you will suffer the same pain in the same joints on both body sides.
The second type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative disorder caused by trauma or continuous age-related tear and wears in your joints. Osteoarthritis is most likely to affect weight-bearing joints such as the lower spine, hip, knees, or big toes. It also causes pain in your finger or thumb joints.
Experts believe that individuals who live long enough will eventually develop some form of osteoarthritis. There is also an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis in joints already affected by rheumatoid arthritis; a condition referred to as secondary osteoarthritis. Here are some key osteoarthritis symptoms you should not ignore;
Pain is a common factor in inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis. However, the pain in one differs from the other. The pain in osteoarthritis tends to be worse upon any force exertion and reduces upon rest. Unlike in inflammatory arthritis, the pain in osteoarthritis is usually limited to around the joints.
- Mild swelling
The joints may feel tender and achy but do not appear as swollen as is the case with inflammatory arthritis. You will notice mild swelling after any physical activity, which advances over time
You will feel a little stiff upon extended periods of inactivity, especially in the first hour of your morning.
- Bone Spurs
A few bone parts may be deposited around the affected joints, giving your fingers or toes an appearance of deformity.
- Reduced flexibility
The affected joints may experience a reduced range in motion, which compromises movement
- Clicking or cracking sounds
These are the sounds of your bones-in the affected joints-rubbing together without sufficient cartilage to cushion them
Arthritis Symptoms (Rheumatoid/ Inflammatory Arthritis)
Below are early signs of Rheumatoid arthritis you should not ignore;
Fatigue is the most common symptom of RA. It appears months before the other symptoms appear. Fatigue could be a plain reaction to the increased inflammation levels in the body. It could also indicate an underlying condition associated with RA.
- Low-Grade Fever
A persistent low-grade fever accompanies by other early symptoms of RA could indicate the onset of RA.
- Poor Appetite and Weight Loss
According to medical experts, having uncontrolled inflammation suppresses one's appetite. The uncontrolled inflammation impacts metabolism and triggers the breakdown of muscle mass, resulting in weight loss. The reduced appetite also contributes to weight loss.
- Dry Eyes and Mouth
RA causes the eye surfaces to become inflamed, a condition known as episcleritis, which starts as mild redness and irritation. You will also experience reduced tear fluid where your eyes and mouth dry out.
- Painful Chests
RA may cause pericarditis, an inflammation of the tissues lining the chest cavity and surrounding the heart. It leads to chest pains and breathing difficulties.
Most people suffering from RA will experience morning stiffness. You may also notice stiffness in minor joints that are not caused by physical activity. The stiffness often starts in tiny joints and progresses to other major joints.
If you notice any of these early signs and symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. The earlier you begin to seek treatment, the easier it will be to manage the condition. Experts recommend staying away from inflammatory foods to reduce the chances of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, engaging in physical activity helps keep your body active, which helps to manage some of these symptoms.