Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in and around the joints and other organs in the body.
RA frequently affects the joints in the hands, causing the joint lining to become inflamed and damaged as a result. This process leads to chronic pain, swelling, and deformity. Consequently, an individual with RA may find it challenging to carry out daily tasks, such as cooking, bathing, or getting dressed.
RA progresses through four stages. During stage 1, when there is early RA in the hands, a person may experience stiffness and pain that improve with movement. Due to lack of more pronounced symptoms, doctors may find it difficult to diagnose RA initially.
In this article, we discuss RA in the hands. We also examine stage 1 RA in more detail, as well as the symptoms and treatment options as RA progresses.
RA symptoms differ between individuals and can be unpredictable. However, RA typically has a relapsing-remitting pattern, meaning that a person will have periods of worsening symptoms, or flare-ups, that are followed by periods of remission.
More than 50% of RA cases begin slowly and without any apparent symptoms, so an individual is not aware of it developing. However, in up to 25% of cases, the onset of symptoms is abrupt.
RA symptoms stem from inflammation and affect the synovial tissues that line the joints. The symptoms usually develop in the left and right side equally and are worse after a period of immobility, such as after waking up.
Over time, RA progresses, and the symptoms worsen. The condition may also affect more joints, leading to joint malformation, which may reduce a person’s range of mobility.
Doctors distinguish between four stages of RA:
- stage 1, or early stage RA
- stage 2, or moderate RA
- stage 3, or severe RA
- stage 4, or end stage RA
Progression through the stages may take many years, and with the right treatment, some individuals will not progress through all stages.
In early stage RA, the joint capsule becomes inflamed, and the synovial tissues swell. This process causes joint pain, visible swelling, and stiffness.
If a primary care physician or rheumatologist diagnoses RA at this early stage, before joint damage begins, the chances of having extended periods with no symptoms increase significantly.
The best outcomes occur when a person receives an RA diagnosis and appropriate treatment within <hl-trusted-source source="Nature" rationale="Highly respected journal,Expert written journal,Peer …….