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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms and Effects

Caring doctor reviewing medical chart with patient

In August and September, we will be focusing on Rheumatoid Arthritis.

This web site should not be used in lieu of getting professional medical care from a qualified physician. Although we are not doctors, we have done a bit of research on these issues from official and professionally reliable sources and hope that we can provide some answers that can help you better understand this illness.

If you have been diagnosed with RA, you will most likely identify with the symptoms listed below. For understanding what symptoms are required for diagnosing RA, see The Arthritis Foundation.

Symptoms of RA

  • Joint pain, with swelling, tenderness, or stiffness for 6 weeks or longer

  • Morning stiffness lasting for 30 minutes or longer

  • More than one joint is affected

  • Small joints (wrists, joints of hands and feet) are affected

  • Same joints on both sides of the body are affected

Other Organs and Body Systems Affected

  • Eyes: dryness, pain. Redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision

  • Mouth: dryness and gum irritation or infection

  • Skin: rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over body areas

  • Lungs: inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath

  • Blood vessels: inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin, or other organs

  • Blood: anemia, abnormally low number of red blood cells

Not everyone who has RA will have the non-joint symptoms mentioned above in the second list. However, if you do develop any of these problems, be sure to let your arthritis doctor know about them. *Arthritis Foundation, “What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?’ (Arthritis Foundation, Retrieved 8/3/2018)

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