8 Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder, a dysfunction of the immune system. The purpose of a healthy immune system is to protect the body from infection. For those diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system becomes overactive and attacks the joints, specifically the synovial lining of affected joints, causing pain and stiffness.

The exact causes of rheumatoid arthritis are still not clear, but the condition has been studied extensively. Research shows that genetic and environmental conditions trigger the disease. Not everyone with the genetic predisposition for RA will develop the condition. There are current theories that suggest a virus, trauma or infection triggers the onset of the condition in a percentage of those who are genetically susceptible. Unfortunately, those who develop rheumatoid arthritis may end up with health problems that extend beyond painfully damaged joints.

1. Joint Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain in the joints. The condition typically affects the small joints of the feet and hands, but can affect any joint in the body. The pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis is symmetrical. This means that both sides of the body are typically affected. For example, if there is pain felt in the left elbow, similar pain will be experienced on the right side.

As mentioned earlier, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the synovium of the joint. This is the tissue around the joint responsible for providing nutrients and maintaining lubrication. The initial pain of RA is caused by the inflammatory reaction caused by the overactive immune system attacking the synovium. The resulting swelling of the area stretches the pain receptors in the soft tissues. The stretching of pain receptors causes pain.