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Discussing Your Symptoms

When a patient develops signs of what they believe to be rheumatoid arthritis, it is important that they carefully document their symptoms. One of the reasons this is so crucial is that many of these symptoms may mimic those of other diseases and disorders. Not every person who has tender or swollen joints is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. However, this means that having specific information for your doctor can facilitate diagnosis and when appropriate a referral to a rheumatologist doctor.

Understanding the symptoms

In most cases, the symptoms of arthritis are the same for nearly everyone. It is notable that more women suffer from rheumatoid arthritis than men, but men are not spared from this debilitating disease. Some of the symptoms that may require a rheumatology workup include:

Painful joints - one of the first signs of arthritis is pain and swelling in the joints. Unlike non-rheumatoid arthritis however, RA typically is found in the smaller joints such as those in the fingers and toes.

Heated areas - many patients who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis will discover that when the joints affected are painful and swollen that they are also warm or even hot to the touch. This is generally a sign that the joint is inflamed.

General malaise - some patients who are suffering with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms will feel as if they may have the flu. These symptoms include weight loss, fever and feelings of exhaustion. This is because the disease attacks the auto-immune system.

Other things your doctor needs to know

There are some other things that your doctor will need to know to help diagnose or eliminate rheumatoid arthritis as a cause of your problems. Some of the questions that your doctor may ask include:

Family history - does anyone in the family suffer from arthritis. While it is not necessarily an indication that you have the same problem, there is often a hereditary component.

Morning pain - many who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis find they are in a significant amount of pain the morning. Often, this pain goes away after they have been up for a couple of hours, though some patients may suffer for several hours.

Medications and OTC meds - your physician will also want to be informed of any prescription or over-the-counter drugs that you may be taking. This can help eliminate side effects from these medications as the cause of the problems.

Other health issues - it is important to discuss all other health issues that you may be suffering. Your doctor will determine after looking at your entire familial and personal health history if you need to be referred to a rheumatologist for further assessment.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis is very challenging and requires medical intervention in many cases. While mild cases may be controlled with aspirin or other over-the-counter pain relievers it is important to understand that that for most patients, symptoms get worse as they age. Exercise, proper diet and proper medical treatment can help keep the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis from interfering with your enjoyment of life.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Information & Resources

Rheumatologist Doctor

What Is a Rheumatology Doctor?

Your First Visit to the Rheumatologist

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Treatment & Care of Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Guides

Discussing Your Symptoms

Exercising With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Complications

Living With and Managing Your RA

Pain Management With RA

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