What Are the 4 Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis?




Rheumatoid arthritis has four stages, each with their own treatment objectives. Knowing these stages can help you and your doctor plan for the best possible outcomes.

At first, your joints may swell and feel tight and hot to touch, with intense pain.

Stage 1: Early Symptoms

At the start of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), people typically experience joint ache and discomfort that worsen over time. This is an indication of inflammation – a key element in RA.

Joints may appear red or discolored, and the skin may feel warm to touch due to increased blood flow from capillaries due to inflammation in the joints.

Joints affected by RA may feel stiff. This makes it difficult to bend or even form a fist, and is an often experienced symptom in RA.

Another sign that someone may have RA is unusual fatigue. This could begin weeks or months prior to other symptoms appearing and persist for extended periods.

Rheumatoid disease treatment aims to slow joint destruction and prevent deformities. It involves medications which reduce inflammation and stop the immune system from attacking joints; these are known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

Stage 2: Moderate Symptoms

When treated early enough, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can usually be managed. Unfortunately, if not managed early enough, the condition may progress and cause permanent damage to joints and tendons.

Stage one symptoms include swelling, pain and stiffness in the affected joint – these can affect hands, wrists, knees and hips alike.

Patients may observe their affected joint as crooked or deviated from its usual position, leading to difficulties performing everyday activities like typing or writing.

It is essential to be aware that this stage of the condition can progress quickly without treatment. Without effective management, it could result in decreased quality of life and even disability.

If you are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, it’s time to visit your doctor. They will take a medical history and perform a physical exam as well as run blood tests and take x-rays to monitor how the disease is progressing.

Stage 3: Severe Symptoms

RA is an autoimmune disorder, in which your immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. This can cause inflammation in joints, lungs, eyes and heart.

Some RA symptoms are more serious than others, making treatment a challenge. But getting started early on can help minimize your chances for complications and lower your chance for disability.

Your healthcare team may suggest physiotherapy, which may provide temporary relief from symptoms. This may involve exercises in a warm-water pool under the supervision of an experienced physiotherapist.

Exercise is essential for maintaining physical fitness, as this can reduce stiffness and build muscles. While staying active may be challenging when your symptoms are severe, it’s essential for overall health and well-being.

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to manage symptoms and minimize the likelihood of other issues. Being overweight puts you at greater risk for osteoporosis, which makes bones more prone to breakage.

Stage 4: Advanced Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks the cells that line your joints. This leads to swelling and discomfort at the joint, as well as damage to cartilage or nearby bone.

Early treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can alleviate joint pain and swelling, slow joint destruction, and prevent deformities. Furthermore, taking these medicines will give you longer intervals between flare-ups – which means more flexibility to continue working or attending school.

When receiving treatment for osteoporosis, you may be prescribed glucocorticoids which can help control symptoms but put you at greater risk for developing osteoporosis and other bone issues. Therefore, it’s essential to follow a balanced diet with plenty of calcium in the form of low fat milk, cheese, yoghurt or green leafy vegetables.

In certain circumstances, surgery may be required to repair or replace damaged joints. This can be achieved with man-made components or by realigning torn ligaments or tendons.

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