Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and swelling in the joints. It may also affect the tissues surrounding the joints and other adjacent or connective tissues, and its adverse effects may be either on one or multiple joints. The arthritic disease or condition can be categorized into more than 100 types with different causes and varied treatment methods. However, two of the most common types include osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The symptoms of arthritis normally take time to develop, but they may also appear all of a sudden. The worst cases of this disease are noticed in adults above 65 years of age, but it may also develop in children, adolescents, and young adults. Furthermore, women, especially those with excess body weight, are at a higher risk and are more commonly victims of the disease than are men.
As with any other disease, arthritis can be treated, and with proper exercise and medication, it can be controlled. It’s very important to make a distinction between controlled and cured. This disease cannot be completely cured. This is why it is important to take your medicine on time and to follow the doctor's orders. Many people don’t know that if this disease is diagnosed on time, chances are that you can prevent the unwanted course of the disease that can be expected to follow after it’s discovered. So the question is whether the arthritis is discovered in time, and for early detection and diagnosis, awareness of the signs and symptoms is key.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
- Fatigue and tenderness
- Feeling of swelling in the joint
- Joint stiffness
- The joint can change in color (redness is most commonly observed)
- Discomfort in the back and in the legs
- Joint pain
- Minor joint swelling
- The person will experience fever (from time to time)
- Limited movement in both legs and arms
- Numbness and tingling in the hands
Fatigue and Tenderness
Very common and early signs of arthritis can be fatigue and tenderness. When you experience fatigue or tenderness, your first reaction is that maybe you slept on your arm, or maybe you have kept your legs crossed for a long period of time. However, be aware that if this happens more than once, it is an early sign of arthritis. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t worry too much, because it’s just an early sign. Visit your doctor and he will tell you how to deal with this situation. Fatigue as a symptom of arthritis becomes obvious well before any other sign appears, usually arising weeks or months earlier than the onset of the other symptoms. This fatigue and restlessness is often accompanied by ill-health and may lead a person into a state of depression. Therefore, an expert medical practitioner should be approached for the appropriate advice.
A Feeling of Swelling in the Joint
If you have ever felt a certain swelling in your joints, then that is also a sign of arthritis. If you ever face this kind of problem, then visit a doctor immediately. The doctor can prescribe you certain medications that can prevent the swelling in your joints. Don’t be fooled by the pills' effectiveness, though. Most of them are painkillers and cannot prevent the appearance of arthritis.
Joint stiffness can be very unpleasant. Most of the people who experience joint stiffness will initially think that it’s a consequence of a previous injury. The fact that you may evolve arthritis is pretty scary, but it’s better to treat this disease in the early stages than to let it evolve. Stiffness is considered one of the most common and early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. This can occur in one or more of the smaller joints at any moment of time. Moreover, a person may experience rigidity and hardness in his joints whether the person is active or at rest. Usually, stiffness begins in the joints of the hands and the process of the stiffness spreading to other joints is slow. However, it may also arise suddenly, affecting multiple joints within a duration of one or two days.
Redness of the Joint
Redness of the skin over and surrounding the joints is a very common thing, especially if you are an athlete or if you like to exercise for long periods. This happens to people who enjoy long distance walks or who like mountain climbing. But if your joints turn red for no reason, then it’s very likely that you are prone to arthritis. It’s nothing to be afraid of--after all, it is possibly only an effect of some previous injury--but it’s good to undergo a medical examination to determine the reason for this joint redness.
Discomfort in the Back and Legs
Discomfort in the back and in the legs is mainly caused by the spine. It may be some nerve that was dislocated for some reason (most likely an uncomfortable mattress). But if it is merely a pinched nerve, the pain in the back will be gone in just a few days. If not, then you should ask for a doctor's opinion, because the pain will grow until it becomes unbearable.
Minor Joint Swelling
Mild swelling and bulging are typically experienced during the initial stages, where the patient can feel his/her joints getting bigger. The inflammation also causes a heating effect and when touched, the joints feel warm. One or more joints may have a flare-up in a single moment or instance. This sensation of flare-ups can last from a few days to a few weeks, and with the passage of time, these patterns are expected to increase in duration.
Fever is also a very common early sign of arthritis. If you start getting a fever for no apparent reason at all and it happens often, then this may be an early sign of arthritis. Most people ignore this sign, not because they want to, but because they don’t know how serious it is. They take medicine for fever instead of other medications that are specially made to treat the signs of arthritis.
Limited Movement of Legs and Arms
Limited movement in the joints can point to arthritis. This happens when you try to spread your arms or legs. You will feel a pain in your joints, and you find that you aren't able to move them like you did before. Certain massages, injections, and medications can help, but not before you consult with your doctor.
Numbness and Tingling in the Hands
Inflammation and swelling of the tendons may lead to both pressure and exertion on the nerves. This, in turn, offers a feeling of numbness, tingling, and itching in the hands. Moreover, a patient may experience a burning sensation or pain in the hands. This is collectively referred to as ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’.
An Important Reminder When You Experience the Symptoms
If you ever any of these symptoms in yourself, please do not try to resolve the problem by self-medicating, which can worsen or complicate the disease. Do not ignore it either in the hope that it will simply go away. See a doctor as soon as possible.