Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis(RA) is a chronic condition that is typically diagnosed during the middle adult ages. RA symptoms include joint pain, inflammation, red skin, swelling and heat. Joint deformation is among the most severe RA symptoms that can occur if proper treatment is not administered.


The cause of rheumatoid arthritis stem from a malfunction in the immune system. The immune system overreacts, and the body starts attacking the lining of various joints throughout the body. Researchers aren’t certain what triggers this cause of RA, but when the immune system malfunctions there is no curing the condition. Medications are available to help control the immune system’s overreaction, but the symptoms progressively get worse over time.

Symptoms & Signs

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms affect each patient somewhat differently. Some people may have more joint stiffness, and others may experience more daytime fatigue. However, joint pain is the constant sign of RA. Joint pain may come and go, and patients often experience flareups of symptoms. Over time, people with RA must learn how to manage their symptoms and find pain relief.

Rheumatoid joint pain symptoms often affect the hands, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles and feet. Other joints throughout the body can also succumb to RA pain, including the hips, jaw, back and shoulders. The symptoms tend to be symmetric, meaning if your right elbow has rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, you will also feel pain and swelling in your other shoulder as well.

In addition to joint pain, another of the more common symptoms of RA is morning stiffness. People who have these symptoms tend to be more sore or stiff when they wake up in the morning, but joint stiffness tends to fade the longer the patient is up and moving. Joints affected by RA are often warm and red, and patients may feel bouts of fatigue throughout the day — a RA symptom known as sundowning.

Symptoms of arthritis are brought on by swelling and inflammation of the joints, and this swelling can be brought under control through conventional and over-the-counter treatments. There are also alternative treatments for arthritis that can provide relief to patients. These treatments can not only reduce pain, but also help promote the healthy preservation of bone, cartilage and other tissues of the joints.

Symptoms of RA other than joint pain include:

  • Persistent fatigue
  • Fever
  • Eating less
  • Losing weight
  • Aching muscles
  • Lack of energy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nodules on the skin over affected joints

The above symptoms of RA tend to occur before joint pain sets in, and many people with early onset rheumatoid arthritis think they have the cold or flu. A smaller number of people experience the onset of RA symptoms more suddenly, but usually symptoms set in slowly.

Patients with RA often experience periods of remission, during which times the rheumatic disease is not active. When a remission occurs, most signs including joint pain, fatigue and swelling are gone. A remission is only temporary, and eventually rheumatoid arthritis symptoms return.

Health complications

Rheumatoid Nodules

A rheumatoid nodule is a lump that forms beneath the skin, usually on or near the joints in the arms and legs. A rheumatoid nodule near the elbow may appear to be a lump beneath or on top of the arm, as if a piece of bone were sticking up beneath the skin. Nodules sometimes form on the eyes or internal organs, which can lead to further health complications.

Cardiopulmonary Disease

RA can result in several types of cardiopulmonary disease, including intrapulmonary nodules, interstitial fibrosis and bronchiolitis obliterans pneumothorax. The symptoms of these complications can closely resemble infections or cancerous growths.

Ocular Disease

People who suffer from RA may experience a reddening or discoloration of the eye, sometimes accompanied by pain. The most common types of ocular disease are Sjogren’s syndrome and Keratoconjunctivitis, although the most serious types of ocular disease are the lesser-known types.

Neurologic Disease

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from one or more types of neurological diseases and disorders. These include sensory peripheral neuropathy, entrapment neuropathies or cervical myelopathy.

Felty’s Syndrome

Felty’s syndrome is nowadays a rare complication of rheumatoid arthritis and is characterized by splenomegaly, and leukopenia – predominantly granulocytopenia. Recurrent bacterial infections and chronic refractory leg ulcers are the major complications.

Rheumatoid Vasculitis

This complication is marked by deformation of the fingertips around the fingernails. A person with severe vasculitis appears to have suffered from frostbite, with the outer layer of skin eaten away to reveal a tight, black skin beneath. Rheumatoid vasculitis usually doesn’t set in unless someone has suffered aggressive RA for several years.

Sjogren’s Syndrome

People who have Sjogren’s syndrome are unable to shed tears or form saliva normally. Most common in women, this disorder is eventually present in up to 15 percent of people who have rheumatoid arthritis. People with mild forms of this complication may experience frequent dry skin.

Back Pain from RA

There are numerous forms of treatment for chronic back pain, although most treatments focus on rest and medication. The medications help to reduce inflammation that can compress spinal nerves and constrict blood flow, which slows down the body’s natural healing process. There are many muscles that make up the back, and resting allows the muscles time to heal from trauma. Tailbone pain is also helped by rest and medication, and people who suffer from tailbone pain must also avoid activities that could cause further injury.

Lower Back Pain Exercises

Physical therapy in the form of back pain exercises is also crucial for treatment. Patients can benefit by regularly doing various lower back pain exercises and stretches. This is true especially for people with rheumatoid arthritis, which is among the primary causes among the elderly. In the case of RA, additional treatments will be needed in addition to regular exercise, but exercising helps to keep the body limber and the muscles strong. This can reduce tailbone pain and especially lower back pain by reducing stress on the vertebrae.

Back Therapy Stretches

Some of the more common lower back pain exercises include V-sits, when you sit on the floor with your legs straight ahead and see how far forward you can reach. There are also standing stretches, when you bend at your back in a standing position first to the left, and then slowly to the right. You can also lay on your back and put your legs in the air, then lower them so that they’re directly over your head, with your shoulders and arms on the ground to hold you steady.

Alternative Treatments

Whether your back pain is caused by an injury or RA, there are numerous alternative treatments that have been shown to help relieve pain in the spine and back muscles. These alternative treatments include massage, acupuncture and even reflexology, which is the belief that pressure points in the feet can reduce the pain. Chiropractic care also falls under the scope of alternative back pain treatment. Thousands of people in the United States see chiropractors on a regular basis for help with their back problems.

Lower Back Pain Causes

Rheumatoid arthritis is a big cause of this type of pain, but it’s not the only cause. There are several causes ranging from stress to sports injuries. The back twists and turns in almost every movement we make, which is why athletes so often suffer from back injuries while at the gym or playing high-intensity games. On the other hand, stepping off of the sidewalk the wrong way can also cause you to tweak your back, as can lifting something without bending at the legs. Once you hurt yourself, the only way to completely cure lower back pain is through rest and caution. When that doesn’t help, a trip to the doctor may be required.