Arthritis is a condition that affects joint muscles, causing them to inflame and become deformed over time. This malady also happens to be one of the debilitating conditions that is known to affect the elderly population and, in some cases, young people as well. While there is no known cure for arthritis, there are a number of management treatments available as of today.
However, before one can seek relief for this condition, it is imperative to first become aware of the common symptoms of arthritis. The best chance of surviving this condition is knowing its earliest signs, such as those listed below.
1. Pain and/or Stiffness of the Fingers, Arms, and Other Joints of the Body
This is perhaps one of the earliest and most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. However, most people do not always arrive at the conclusion that they are possibly suffering from such condition. In most cases, pain and stiffness is attributed to fatigue and overuse of muscles, which leads people to dismiss the discomfort and seek early treatment.
2. Tenderness of Joints Followed by Sharp Stabbing Pain
When the arthritis starts progressing, most people afflicted with this condition would experience tenderness in various areas of the body such as knees, arms, legs, and fingers. In addition, stabbing pains can also be experienced (mostly described as the feeling of having pins and needles intermittently pushing against the muscles and bones).
This type of pain may be experienced right after or during physical exertion. However, in severe cases, the pain can manifest unexpectedly, even while at rest or during sleep. This is one of the reasons why people afflicted with arthritis also have insomnia, since they cannot sleep through the night on account of the constant pain.
3. Persistent Injuries
Another apparent symptom of arthritis is one or more injuries that either do not heal, or just keep on recurring. Some of the most common persistent injuries include sprained ankle, dislocated shoulder, and swollen knees. These injuries are likely to persist because the joints no longer heal properly as they become brittle and prone to breakage.
4. Numbness and/or Tingling of the Hands
This usually occurs during cold weather, which is why people often mistake it as a normal reaction to the change in atmospheric temperature. In truth, arthritic joints are highly sensitive to low temperatures so they either tingle or go completely numb when exposed to the cold. This symptom usually persists for days or weeks, in which case it would be wise to invest in a good pair of gloves to keep your hands warm.
This may also be attributed to carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a precursor to full-blown rheumatoid arthritis. The numbness and tingling can manifest suddenly and dissipate in a matter of minutes. However, in some cases, it can occur repeatedly and for long periods of time. In any case, this is something that should prompt you to consult with an orthopedic specialist in order to receive proper preventive treatment.
5. Recurring Foot Pain
This symptom is quite common among women who are over the age of 45. The pain usually starts in the forefoot, and eventually extends to the entire foot. Women who constantly wear high heels are highly vulnerable to this type of problem, and are also at a higher risk of developing full-blown rheumatoid arthritis.
Should you begin to experience this symptom, it is best to immediately head to a podiatrist to manage the pain, and stop wearing heels altogether.
6. Vision Problems
Not many are aware that arthritis does not only affect the joints and skeletal muscles. In fact, this condition can very well affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes. The progression of arthritis can cause vision problems such as blurriness, inability to focus on a specific object, tired eyes, dryness, and many others.
People who suffer from arthritis become more prone to developing Sjogrens Syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease that causes glands to cease releasing moisture. Apart from vision problems, Sjogrens Syndrome also causes dryness of mouth, and inflammation of the skin.
7. Unexplained Fatigue
Early onset arthritis is often characterized by persistent fatigue even in the absence of physical exertion. Simple physical tasks such as walking or climbing the stairs can cause severe fatigue since the skeletal muscles are beginning to lose their structural integrity. This is often misdiagnosed as Fibromyalgia, especially in the case of adults below the age of 50. If this symptom persists for over a period of two or three weeks, it would be prudent to consult an orthopedic doctor for proper diagnosis.
8. Morning Stiffness
Among the earliest signs of developing arthritis is morning muscular stiffness. You may experience this symptom and brush it off as simply the effect of wrong sleeping position, but it can very well be a sign that your joints have started to degenerate. The stiffness usually occurs in the lower back as well as the neck. It can also extend all the way to the lower extremities, i.e. legs and knees.
Stretching usually helps temporarily but it should be noted that there are no exercises that can halt arthritis once it starts to progress.
9. Locked Joints Due to Swelling
Once the arthritis starts to advance, you can expect mobility to become extremely diminished since the joints become inflamed. The knees are usually affected first as they become swollen and locked, which prevents any significant movement, i.e. standing or walking. This is one of the more serious symptoms of arthritis as it is clearly a manifestation of just how degraded the joints are.
10. Nodules on Several Parts of the Body
Lumps would start to appear on various areas of the body such as under the fingers and at the back of the elbows. The nodules will eventually become larger and contribute to the deformity of different parts, i.e. hands and legs. The nodules can also be found in the eyes, which can cause mild to serious visual problems over time.
People who are above the age of forty-five should most definitely watch out for these symptoms and a few others that are not listed. While arthritis is such an insidious disease, it can be managed given the proper information and early diagnosis provided by a competent physician.