Rheumatoid arthritis can cause chest pain
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are different for every person who suffers from this - mostly chronic - disease. Rheumatoid arthritis can begin insidiously and remain confined to a few joints for years. In many cases phases of severe inflammation alternate with phases of weak inflammation. This is called a surge-like course. A flare-up usually lasts for several weeks to several months. Symptoms subside between attacks. Some people have long periods with few or no symptoms.
Nowadays, however, new and earlier therapies lead to a changed, significantly better life for those affected.
Symptoms in the joints
Rheumatoid arthritis almost always affects the joints. The inflammation of the synovium causes typical symptoms such as:
- Pain in the joint
The inflammation in the joint causes pain whether you move it or not. Pressure on the joint and maximum flexion or extension increase the pain.
- Swelling of the joint
the fluid in the joint makes it feel soft and plump-elastic.
- Stiffness of the joint
The joint doesn't move as well as it should. Joint stiffness is especially common in the morning, and in rheumatoid arthritis it can take more than half an hour (sometimes several hours) before the joints feel loose.
- Redness and warmth on the joint
The joints may feel warmer and discolored related to the inflammation.
In which joints do the symptoms appear?
Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins in the hands, typically in the small joints, i.e. often in the metacarpophalangeal and medial joints of the fingers. Both hands are almost always affected. Over time, the inflammation can spread to more and more joints, for example:
When you have rheumatoid arthritis, you'll almost always notice a symmetrical pattern. The condition shows up in the same joints on both sides of your body, such as both wrists or both knees. This is what distinguishes rheumatoid arthritis from most other rheumatic diseases.
Symptoms in other parts of the body
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can go beyond that too. Often times, patients report flu-like general symptoms, such as:
- Tiredness, exhaustion
- muscle pain
- Loss of appetite
- light fever
- poor general condition
- About 20% of rheumatoid arthritis patients develop what are known as rheumatoid nodules. These are rough lumps or bumps under the skin. These are not painful and they are easy to move. Most often they appear on parts of the body that are often exposed to pressure, such as the elbows, but can also appear in other areas such as:
- Underside of the forearm
- at the back of the head
- at the base of the spine
- on the Achilles tendon
- on the tendons in hand
Heart and lung symptoms
In very rare cases (2 to 5%), rheumatoid arthritis can also damage the lungs. This causes either no symptoms or only unspecific symptoms, such as a dry cough and shortness of breath during exercise. Rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis) or myocarditis. Symptoms include shortness of breath or chest pain. In all cases you should consult a doctor in order to avoid secondary damage such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation and stroke.
Symptoms around the eyes
With an inflammatory rheumatic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, all structures in the eye can be affected. "Burning" eyes with a foreign body sensation, a red eye and, if necessary, stabbing pain appear as symptoms. The most common complications of rheumatoid arthritis affecting the eyes are:
- Dry eye syndrome due to destruction of the lacrimal gland
- Scleritis: inflammation and redness in the white part of the eye.
- Cataract: A clouding of the lens that affects vision.
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