At some point in your life, it is extremely likely that you will experience some sort of joint pain. Aside from injuries, joint pain is caused by many different conditions, including two types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common. A CDC-funded project in North Carolina estimates that the lifetime risk of developing knee osteoarthritis is 45%. If the knee has been injured, the chances rise to 57%. Rheumatoid arthritis will strike 4 in every 100 adults. Together, these types of arthritis are the nation’s most common cause of disability.
In the latest data, rheumatoid arthritis accounted for 22% of all deaths due to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. Around 40% of all deaths in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are attributable to cardiovascular causes, including ischemic heart disease, and stroke, so it’s important for people with rheumatoid arthritis to be aware of their other health risks. Because rheumatoid arthritis can affect any part of the body and because the medications for rheumatoid arthritis may have serious side affects, never ignore these 10 symptoms:
1. Shortness of breath. RA can affect your blood vessels and heart and can lead to lung infections.
2. High fever. Call your doctor early and remind the staff that you take drugs that suppress your immune system.
3. Stomach woes. RA drugs control pain, but may increase your risk of bleeding stomach ulcers.
4. Numbness. Inflamed tissues can press against nerves in your hands or feet.
5. Red eyes. Blood vessels in your eyes may swell.
6. Broken bones. People with RA are more likely to get osteoporosis increasing the risk of broken bones.
7. Dry mouth. Dry mouth may cause gum disease.
8. Cataracts. RA sufferers can get cataracts much earlier than others.
9. Hand or foot that won’t move. This rare complication happens when inflamed vessels limit the amount of blood that reaches nerves in your hand or foot. See your doctor quickly or go to the ER. With treatment, the nerve will recover.
10. Spots on fingers. Years ago, some people with RA got small red or black spots on their fingers or toes around the nails, which meant the tissue had died. This is rare, but if you let it go without treatment, you could lose a finger or toe.