Almost one third of people stop working within two years of being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis as their symptoms become simple too painful to allow them to continue to work – but is a lifetime of pain the only option for sufferers?
To begin treating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis effectively it is vital that we understand the condition and what it means for our bodies.
The truth about rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the immune system and joints and can affect people of all ages. Bathing Solutions found that 10 million people suffer from some form arthritis in the UK – 400,000 of them have rheumatoid arthritis and 15,000 of them are children.
If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent disability so it’s vital that you don’t ignore the signs and visit your GP immediately if you suspect you have the condition.
The common signs and symptoms
To help you stay vigilant against this condition you must be aware of the most common signs and symptoms associated with it. Rheumatoid arthritis can present itself in a number of ways with symptoms most likely to develop over a period of several weeks.
The most common signs to look for include:
• Joint pain
• Joint tenderness
• Swelling of the joint
• Redness around the joint
• Joint warmth
• Stiffness of the joint – especially in the mornings
Interestingly, rheumatoid arthritis often affects the body symmetrically so it is common to find both sides of the body aching at the same time. The pain associated with this form of arthritis is usually a throbbing feeling with occasional aching but there will also be discomfort around the joint which will nearly always be worse in the mornings and during periods of inactivity.
If you are affected by rheumatoid arthritis then you are also likely to feel stiffness around your joints. This may even go as far as to prevent functionality to some degree.
Just like the pain, stiffness is more common during the mornings and periods of immobility so remaining active and enjoying low-impact, low-stress exercise can help alleviate symptoms.
The treatment options
If you begin to notice any of the above signs or symptoms it is crucial that you make an appointment to see your GP and begin treatment immediately.
Between half and three quarters of arthritis sufferers delay seeing a doctor for up to three months after their symptoms begin and one fifth actually put off visiting their GP for up to a year – something which could be extremely hazardous.
If the symptoms of arthritis are left to continue without medical attention then permanent disability can occur with sufferers like to experience extreme pain. Getting immediate treatment is the first step in defending yourself against this – as Dr Steve Lloyd, a GP from the East Midlands, explains:
“With treatment it’s possible to minimise, or prevent, long-term damage to the joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis. If you experience symptoms of the disease go and speak to your GP, they will want to see you.”
Don’t ignore the signs of rheumatoid arthritis. Seek medical advice as soon as possible so that you can get the diagnosis and treatment you need.