Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms Can Make Someone Disabled

by Editorial Board on May 13, 2011 · 0 comments

in Bone & Joint Problems

A joint is a structure which allows the meeting of two bones and it allows for the movement of different body parts.  Arthritis is defined as inflammation of a joint.  Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints.  RA may also affect other body organs in addition to just joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a leading cause of disability within the musculoskeletal category of impairments and it affects over 1.3 million people in the U.S. alone.  Women are more commonly affected than men.  It affects people of all ages but its incidence rises sharply as one’s age advances.  People over 40 have a much higher chance of developing this disabling disease than do younger people.  The genetic basis of this disease has been proven and it may affect multiple members of a same family.

The hallmark of this disease is that it is a chronic condition that usually lasts for years due to lack of any cure.  It is also typically a progressive disease leading to more severe signs and symptoms over time.

The symptoms of this disease are variable and may come and go depending on the level of inflammation and resulting damage.  In case of current inflammation, the disease is called active and if the inflammation subsides due to any reason, the disease is said to be inactive. Remissions are common and may occur at any time despite ongoing treatment and may last for years.  The course of this disease is highly variable and varies from patient to patient.

In a case of active RA disease, the patient may have symptoms like loss of appetite and energy, fatigue, low-grade fever, joint pain, and stiffness.  Pain and stiffness is usually more severe in the morning and after long periods of inactivity.  The joints become inflamed, swollen, hard, painful and tender.

The notable feature of this disease is that it usually affects multiple joints and thus has an enormous overall negative impact on health.  The small joints of wrist and/or hand are commonly affected and these patients face difficulties in day-to-day routines like turning of door knobs and other such handling and fingering tasks. Chronic long term inflammation leads to extensive damage in joints and other body organs.  The loss of cartilage, weakness and destruction of bone, damage to joint cartilage and muscles can lead to loss of function and maybe even disability.

Persistent pain and stiffness and lack of joint mobility are the two major causes of disability in most patients.  As there is no cure, RA patients feel pain over a long time.  They are also unable to use joints for routine work which deteriorates the quality of life, both physical and mental.  Problems and limitations from RA usually get worse with advancement of age making older people more likely to be disabled from arthritis.  Progressive inflammation leads to restricted joint movements, and permanent deformity limiting activities including work.

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