There are a few different types of arthritis, but the rheumatoid variety is when a person’s immune system attacks and subsequently inflames their joints. It is very painful and can ultimately lead to physical disability. Though there is no cure, early detection and management is crucial to prevent lasting joint damage. So what are the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis? We’ll describe them here so you know when it’s time to see the doctor.
What happens with rheumatoid arthritis
The underlying cause of RA is a malfunctioning immune system. A healthy immune system fights infection, but in people with rheumatoid arthritis, this protective system mistakenly attacks the cells in the lining of their joints. Symptoms are most commonly seen in the hands, wrists, and feet, and cause these joints to become swollen, stiff, and quite painful. RA may have periods of inactivity followed by agonizing flare-ups. Treatment can help to reduce flare-ups and their associated damage, but not eliminate the disease all together.