The immune system of people with RA attacks the synovium or lining of the inside of the joints. This causes inflammation and a thickening of the synovium that eventually destroys the cartilage within the joint. No one knows what causes RA, but it is a chronic condition that requires a lifetime of careful medical management.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- Stiffness in the joints
- Joint swelling and tenderness
- Joints are warm to the touch
- Change in appetite and weight loss
Fever and fatigue, general soreness, and feeling run down are often mistaken for the flu at first. Also, symptoms of RA may come and go, making it even harder to recognize a pattern. There are other conditions, some chronic, that mimic the early symptoms of RA:
- Lyme disease
- Osteoarthritis (OA)
- Psoriatic arthritis
Lupus and psoriatic arthritis are also autoimmune disorders with complex diagnostic criteria. Your doctor may not be able to tell which condition you have at first. A physical exam will often be followed by blood work and possibly imaging. Blood tests can show if there is an elevated level of proteins that indicate the presence of inflammation inside the body. Testing can also show rheumatoid factor and antibodies found in people who have RA.
If you have some of the symptoms of the early stages of RA, call the Clinton Township, Michigan office of Movement Orthopedics at (586) 436-3785 for a consultation. The expert and caring providers can diagnose RA and get started with treatment right away.