Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms
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Arthritis is a common condition that affects around 10 million people in the UK. Depending on what type you have it can result in swollen, painful joints as well as limited mobility. Although there is no cure, there are treatments available as soon as you spot the symptoms.
With this in mind an expert spoke to Express.co.uk about some of the signs to look out for.
Doctor Bryony Henderson, from Livi, explained: “Symptoms usually develop gradually over several weeks, but in some cases they can progress quickly over a number of days.
“Sometimes, your symptoms can get worse (called relapses or flare-ups) or improve (called a remission) over time.
“Flare-ups are often difficult to predict but can be managed with medicine.
“If you have persistent pain, swelling or stiffness in your joints, you should go and see a GP so that the underlying cause can be identified.
“The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin which can reduce the risk of joint damage in the longer-term.”
Joints that are “hot” and “tender to to touch” are among the most common signs of rheumatoid arthritis, she said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common type of arthritis, which occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, causing pain and swelling.
The NHS says: “It often starts when a person is between 30 and 50 years old. Women are more likely to be affected than men.
“In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling.
“The outer covering (synovium) of the joint is the first place affected.
“This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint’s shape.
“This may cause the bone and cartilage to break down.
“People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body.”
According to Dr Henderson, other common signs of rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Stiffness and swelling in the wrists, feet and hands, which means that you can’t fully bend your fingers or form a fist
- A throbbing and aching pain, which might be worse after a period of inactivity or in the mornings.
She said less common symptoms can include:
- Lack of energy and tiredness
- High temperature and sweating
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry eyes
- Chest pain.
In comparison, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting nearly nine million people.
Initially it compromises the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, making movement more difficult and leading to pain and stiffness.
It mainly affects joints in the hands, knees, spine and hips.
Other types of arthritis include psoriatic arthritis and gout.
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