Rheumatoid arthritis afflicts millions of people and can significantly reduce one’s quality of life. The early symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis include pain, redness and swelling in the small joints (typically the hands and/or feet) on both sides of the body. Unlike osteoarthritis which causes pain and stiffness because the cartilage that normally prevents the bones in the joints from rubbing together is wearing away, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are caused by an inflammation of the membrane that normally lubricates and protects the joints.
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In addition to the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, small nodules or lumps may be present under the skin near the joints. Some research concerning the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis has been done in hopes of finding early warning signs of the disease in the bloodstream. As the disease progresses, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms sometimes worsen to the point of joint deformity. If early warning signs can be identified before the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis appear, then doctors may be able to prevent the disease from progressing to the point where joint deformity occurs.
But, much research is still necessary before this can happen. Currently doctors are only able to make a confirmed diagnosis after the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis appear. Although it is understood what causes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, it is unclear what causes the disease itself. It is believed that the auto-immune system, which normally attacks and destroys harmful bacteria and viruses in the body, goes “haywire,” and attacks healthy cells of the body, causing inflammation or swelling and stiffness in the joints as well as other parts of the body.
Less common symptoms
Some less common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include: inflammation of the lining around the heart and lungs, inflammation of the tear and salivary glands, and in rare cases, general inflammation of the lungs and blood vessels. While the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are confined to the joints, other systems of the body can also be affected, particularly if it is not treated. Treating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms typically consists of treating the pain and reducing the inflammation. In most cases the drugs of choice are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or (NSAIDs), but these may have harsh side effects including damage to the stomach lining and kidneys.
Cox-2 inhibitors have also been used to treat the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, but some have dangerous side effects and may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. The early symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with corticosteroids, but these are not used for long term care, because they become ineffective and may lead to thinning of the bones, weight gain and diabetes.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms typically come and go, sometimes over a person’s entire lifespan, and they may range from non-existent or mild to moderate or severe. Different drugs and treatments may be prescribed depending on the severity of the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and the stage of progression of the disease. Some fascinating recent research indicates that the fruit and the rind of the mangosteen may provide safe and effective relief for the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Components found in the mangosteen are anti-inflammatory and COX-2 inhibiting, while others are anti-ulcer and cardio-protective.
What is the difference with Gout?
Gout is an inflammation of the joints that results in crystals of a chemical compound known as “uric acid”. These crystals are attacked by the immune system, which causes pain, redness, and swelling in the joints and the surrounding tissues. Gout can occur intermittently, with alternating periods of activity or inactivity. Gout attacks are defined as periods when the condition is active. They can be severe or long-lasting.
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High levels of uric acids can cause gout. However, not all people with high levels will develop the condition. Uric acid is created when chemical compounds are broken down by the body. Uric acid is carried through the blood to the kidneys where it is excreted as urine. Small crystals can form in the joints if the blood level of uric acids is too high. This is because the body is producing too much of it or not getting rid. These crystals can form tophus, which are hard bumps under the skin. The kidney stones can also be caused by crystals of uric acid.
Gout attacks can happen in any joint. However, the most common areas affected are the lower limbs (knees, ankles, and feet). Gout attacks usually begin at the base or big toe for many people. Although the first attack usually disappears within 3-10 days, they can return to their original location and continue for longer periods of time if not treated. A majority of people will experience a second attack within one year. Attacks can become more frequent, more severe, and more painful over time. Gout attacks that are repeated can lead to permanent joint damage. It is important to get treatment and diagnosis early.
Gout is a condition that can occur suddenly, unlike other forms of arthritis.
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