The most common cause of multiple joint pains is Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is an inflammatory joint disease which involves the synovium of joints and cause their destruction.
Signs & Symptoms:
Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins with pain in the joints of the fingers and toes. The joints swell and are difficult to move in the morning after getting up (morning stiffness). Rarely are only a few large joints inflamed, such as the knee joints. Inflammation in individual joints often does not stop there. In the first few weeks and months, more are often added.
Tendon sheaths and bursae can also become inflamed. In some patients, for example, rheumatic nodules form on the forearm or fingers. After years of the disease and inadequate treatment, the upper cervical spine can be affected.
Other symptoms can be:
- poor performance
- sleep disorders
- night sweats
- weight loss
This shows that the disease affects the whole body. As it progresses, rheumatoid arthritis can also attack other organs, such as the lungs, heart, blood vessels, nerves or eyes. A distinctive feature of rheumatoid arthritis is that it damages articular cartilage and bone and, in the worst case, can destroy a joint. The disease progresses very differently in individual patients. However, it usually gets worse if left untreated.
The diagnosis – how does the doctor diagnose the disease?
Rapid diagnosis is important for effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Only early therapy – if possible within three months of the onset of the first signs of illness – can prevent permanent damage and secondary diseases.
The doctor makes the diagnosis based on the history of the disease with its symptoms (location and duration of the joint pain and joint swelling, diseases in the family) and the results of the physical examination. Signs of early rheumatoid arthritis are:
Soft joint swelling in more than two joints for six weeks and more
Symmetrical distribution of the affected joints, i.e. both halves of the body are affected
Morning stiffness lasting 60 minutes or more – closing a fist is then not possible.
Blood tests include ESR, CRP, RA Factor, etc.
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