Healthy Living

When Does Arthralgia Progress to Rheumatoid Arthritis?

When Does Arthralgia Progress to Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Arthralgia may cause pain so severe that it has a marked impact on daily life. It can prevent people from doing the things they once enjoyed.

Now, there are tests being developed to determine exactly who is at risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis from arthralgia.

Is your pain worse in the morning? After sitting for prolonged periods? Does it lessen once you start moving about?

You are probably well-aware of these common pain patterns of arthralgia.

Is your pain from an injury? Is it from a reaction from medicine?

Or, is it a ‘hitch-hiker’ to another condition you have, such as osteoarthritis or tendonitis?

Swelling, redness and tenderness in the area of the affected joint is common. Do you have these symptoms?

Whatever the source or symptoms, you are left dealing with the pain of arthralgia.

Arthralgia treatment

For the pain of arthralgia, your physician has probably ordered treatments such as: 

  • Stretching exercises for mild pain
  • Over the counter medications for moderate pain
  • Prescription medications for severe pain

Warm baths are also said to be helpful.

Is the pain relief your doctor ordered working for you? If not, you may need to contact him/her for other suggestions or for referrals to other specialists.

Beyond interventions for your pain, your medical provider has probably already addressed common underlying causes for your arthralgia, and has responded accordingly.

Examples may include:

  • Discontinuing a certain medication, if your arthralgia was caused by an allergic reaction to that medication
  • Ordering an antibiotic if the cause of your arthralgia was from an infected joint

If your arthralgia is the result of joint degeneration, perhaps from osteoarthritis, your doctor may have suggested joint replacement surgery to relieve the condition.

Did your doctor order any of these interventions? Was it helpful in relieving your arthralgia?

If your pain and stiffness continue, it might be wise to contact him/her for additional input.

The relationship between arthralgia and RA

For some people, arthralgia is a harbinger for the inflammatory disease, rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is more effective when started in the early stages of the disease.

With that in mind, researchers have shown there are tests to single out those with arthralgia who are at risk for RA. The study was entitled “Predictive Value of Autoantibodies in Clinically Suspect Arthralgia and Risk for RA”, and was published in Rheumatology.

The tests for your risk of RA involve seeking the presence of certain ‘autoantibodies’ in the blood stream.

The specific autoantibodies present with RA include “ anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA), rheumatoid factor (RF), and antibodies against anti-carbamylated protein (anti-CarP).”

Before looking at the specific research findings, we will speak more about these autoantibodies.

Read on to learn more about autoantibodies, and how they determine specific risk of rheumatoid arthritis in connection with arthralgia.