All Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms shows up for a reason.
People suffering from RA can have one or more of the usual symptoms described below. People can have the same RA symptom but experience it somewhat differently, but there are some general basic categories to expect from RA.
The key bit of Rheumatoid Arthritis info to know is that:
A. Every symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis has a specific cause
B. All symptoms are caused by an overall, predictive mechanism, with a specific cause. That is fixable.
Below you will find a list of symptoms follow by explanations of the how and why of each symptom.
There are many possible Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms.
First you get the overview. Then we'll dial in on each of them.
We're mostly just going to talk about joint related RA symptoms. RA can affect the skin and the organs and the eyes as well, but that's outside the scope of this website.
Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Various Related Points
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms don't just show up out of the blue for no reason (despite what your doctors think).
Arthritis is 'inflammation of a joint'. Rheumatoid Arthritis is inflammation caused by an auto-immune response in the body. Again, your doctors don't know why (which is mind boggling because it's no secret), but that auto-immune response is caused by your body responding with an inflammatory response to inflammatory foods being put into your body.
It's a little more complex than that, of course, but that's the bulk of it.
Find out about the Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis. That explains the overall cause of the Rheumatoid Arthritis mechanism. In short, you take in inflammatory foods like gluten, you get Leaky Gut, proteins leak through your digestive tract lining, and your body attack those proteins. If you haven't, you probably should read the 'Cause' page first.
Also, I will be referring to the Process of Inflammation, so if you're not up to speed on that one, take a quick read first.
The following explanations are of the secondary mechanisms that cause RA symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptom Causes Explained
Joint Swelling (one or more joints)
Joints swell. Why? Because there is an inflammation process hard at work. Your immune system is attacking proteins in the tissue of your joints.
Inflammation causes swelling. Swelling of the connective tissue lining the inside of the joint, the cartilage of the joint, and potentially even extra fluid in the 'empty' space inside the joint.
Ballons expand because the pressure inside increases. Same thing with your joints.
If the swelling increases too much, the joint can put so much pressure on itself that it will not be able to move. Joints are sort of like door hinges. If the door hinge were to magically expand, then it wouldn't be able to hinge, to swivel, toslide, to move.
Thats bad news for a joint. If a joint is immobile for too long, it will literally fuse the moving parts together.
Joint Ache (one or more joints)
Inflammation leads to irritation of the tissue, and the sensation of pain.
Ache means that you're not at the 'pain' level yet, and it's a big red flag that there's a problem that you need to deal with.
Ache happens partly because of minor swelling, partly because the now irritated joint linings are rubbing on each other and causing irritation/injury, and partly because of the Pain Enhancing Chemical released by the inflammation process.
So the joint tissue is irritated, the nerve receptors are set on edge by the Pain Enhancing Chemical, the pain causes muscles to get tight which compresses the joint, which helps cause more irritation.
It would be useful to understand the Pain Causing Dynamic to see how that feedback loop works.
Joint Pain (one or more joints)
I pretty much covered this above in the 'Ache' section. Swelling and ache eventually becomes swelling and pain. The swelling can be major or minor, the pain can be mild or severe, dull or sharp, constant or intermittent.
Joint Stiffness (one or more joints)
This is the Rheumatoid Arthritis symptom that commonly begins the show. It's very often the FIRST RA symptom to appear.
We sort of expect of have aches and pains from time to time (well, once we get a little older, anyway. So 'stiffness' doesn't really set off any alarms.
But then the stiffness lasts. Then other joints get that same stiffness. That's usually when we start to get worried.
A certain amount of ache and/or pain can exist alongside stiffness.
Why stiff? Because inflammation has set in, the immune system is hard at work, joint tissue gets inflammed and there's some swelling. This also affects muscle function to some degree, and the nervous system is ALWAYS wat
Numbness and/or Tingling
Numbness and/or tingling is caused by pressure on a nerve. This can happen in a variety of places including hands, feet, around the neck and shoulder.
In a Rheumatoid Arthritis scenario, numbness and/or tingling from pressure on a nerve is caused by one or a combination of both of the following two factors:
1. Muscle Tightness: Pain causes muscle to tightnen up to 'guard and protect'. This muscle tightness can literall squeeze down on nerves that run through the muscle, under the muscle, or near the muscle. So the nerve gets stepped on, like a foot stepping on a garden hose, and nerve flow is reduced.
2. Swelling of the joint and surrounding tissue: Inflammation causes swelling. Swelling...swells tissue, like an expanding baloon. So in the instance of numbness and/or tingling in the hand/fingers, the wrist joint and surrounding tissue can swell/expand and press on a nerve. The carpal tunnel can become narrowed by this expansive swelling, thus comrpessing the median nerve and causing Carpal Tunnel Symptoms.
Fatigue, generally feeling 'bad', fever, loss of appetite
Even if there is joint pain in specific spots, the auto-immune response that is responsible for rheumatoid arthritis symptoms is a SYSTEM WIDE EVENT!
Systemic inflammation affects your entire body. People most commonly feel symptoms focused on the joints, but it is entirely common to have symptoms similar to flu symptoms....that achey, unwell, feverish, don't want to eat kind of experience.
Those feelings are caused by the body's immune system response...it's trying to fight off an invader...but can't. Sometimes that 'flu' experience lasts weeks and weeks and months or longer. The body is really brilliant in some ways, and really dumb in some ways. But it's trying it's best to keep you safe and healthy.....but it can get stuck in actually making your life miserable.
Also, it takes a lot of energy to fuel a big constant inflammation response. Along with nutritional lack, poor sleep, and the ongoing stress of pain, adrenal fatigue can come into play.
Point being, you're not sick, but your body is trying to fight of what it thinks is a sickness, and that's what that feels like.
You Get Misdiagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Plantar Fasciitis Or Tendonitis or 'aging'
You have pain so you go see a doctor. You don't suspect that you have a Rheumatoid Arthritis symptom, because you just have foot pain or Carpal Tunnel Symptoms, or a general ache/pain.
So your doctor, after meeting with you for three minutes, diagnoses you with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or Plantar Fasciitis, or Fibromyalgia.
While you may have those symptoms, that's not what's causing your symptoms. So now you have a misdiagnosis, and more time passes and your RA progresses. Eventually you'll probably get a Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis. But even then, the only treatment you'll get from your doctor is pharmaceutical drugs and a 'good luck'.
If that's not good enough for you and you want a fix, then go after the CAUSE of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Eye problems (dryness, inflammation, nodules)
The auto-immune process can essentially decrease or shut off the body's ability to keep your eyeballs moist. This is BAD news for your eyeballs.
Your eyes themselves can also get inflammed and irritated. All the same process is involved: the inflammation process, the immune system attacking proteins in your tissue, pain enhancing chemical, and the body responding to those processes.
Eyes organs and sking aren't my area of expertise, so all I really have to offer here is "Use eyedrops, and fix your RA problem by eliminating the causes of RA".
Organ problems (lungs, liver, etc)
Organ problems are by far the most dangerous of the RA symptoms. This Rheumatoid Arthritis symptom can destroy your organ, which is bad news and possibly deadly news for a body. Chest pains, or shortness of breath? Those are possible RA symptoms.
All the same process is involved. Your body responds to invaders with an auto-immune response, your immune system attacks proteins in your body. For some reason, it goes after some peoples's organs and not others. Some people will be affected in their lung(s), some in their liver, some elsewhere.
It is very important to stop these symptoms from getting worse, as there's not much coming back from organ damamage even if you do reverse the Rheumatoid Arthritis mechanism.
Skin problems from Rheumatoid Arthritis consist primarily of nodules in and under the skin close to affected joints. These nodules most commonly show up at/near the elbows.
These can be small or large, and anywhere from mildly annoying to severely affecting a persons life.
The immune system attacks proteins in the body. This causes inflammation and irritation. The body attempts to 'encapsulate' the invader, and/or the body tries to heal damaged tissue with scar tissue
Red and/or black spots in/under/around the fingernails can indicate damage to blood vessels by the inflammation process. This is a rare RA symptom and is an indication of a dangerous rheumatic situation.
If you didn't already have some tendonitis dynamic in play, the pain and inflammation of RA will kick in the Pain Causing Dyanmic and create a Tendonitis dynamic.
See: What Is Tendonitis?
Children and teens can also suffer from RA.
Symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis are all the same symptoms, but there's a certain.....way the world looks in that context.
Meaning, we don't expect our kids to be suffering from arthritis, so it's easy to overlook or miss that there actually is a problem. So it's worth being aware of the early onset symptoms so you can have a more educated viewpoint as you watch over your children and keep them safe and healthy.
See more about Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Doctors believe that there is no cure for arthritis. So they just treat symptoms.
For a variety of poorly thought out reasons, they often prescribe Antibiotic Treatment For Arthritis, but that's a horrible idea for rheumatoid arthritis. If there is no active infection, then antibiotics are a waste of time AND harmful...setting one up for worse symptoms down the road.
(The rest to be included here shortly)
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