When should you see an orthopedic doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

When should you see an orthopedic doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis?, TPL Orthopedics and Sports MedicineEvery person affected with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) experiences slightly different symptoms.

Some patients may have only a few or no symptoms for long periods while others may experience symptoms for months at a stretch in an aggravation of the disease activity known as a flare.

A majority of patients have persistent issues with bouts of worsening of the condition. But there are dramatic changes in the situation due to innovative and earlier treatment. An increasing number of people are now experiencing low disease activity or even remission.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide treatments for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.


RA Symptoms in the Joints

RA is a disorder that almost always impacts the joints. The initial signs may take a few weeks or months to surface. The swelling associated with RA causes classic symptoms such as:


The patient finds it harder to use the joint, and it does not move properly. This situation is common in the morning. People with other types of arthritis also experience stiff joints in the morning. However, it takes people with RA over an hour, at times several hours, before the joint feels loose.


The joint becomes puffy and tender due to the presence of fluid.


Swelling inside a joint cause it to hurt whether the patient is moving it or not. This can lead to damage and pain over time.

Redness and Warmth

The joints may be warmer and display color changes related to the swelling.


What Joints Does RA Affect?

RA typically initiates in the hands. However, it can impact any joint, including:

RA patients notice a symmetrical pattern. It manifests in the same joints on either side of the body, such as both hips or both wrists.

While not a frequent occurrence, RA can also impact a joint in the voice box making the patient’s voice hoarse.


Whole-Body Symptoms

Other than the symptoms in the joints, RA can also cause:

  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Poor appetite
  • Bad all over (doctors refer to this as malaise)

Anemia or a deficiency of healthy red blood cells can be a reason for extreme fatigue. The doctor will examine this as an element of the RA diagnosis.

Some of these symptoms can also be a result of depression. It is hard to live with a chronic condition like RA. The patient should consult their doctor if they feel they may be experiencing RA symptoms.

The patient should reach out to their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms. Gradual onset of the pain and stiffness could indicate the initial stages of RA, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic disease.

If the pain manifests quickly and is accompanied by fever, the patient may have infectious arthritis. If there is no fever, the patient may be developing gout (usually in the big toe) or pseudogout.

The patient may experience pain and stiffness in their legs, arms, or back after sitting for short durations or after getting up in the morning. This may be an indication of the onset of RA, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic condition.

A child with juvenile RA may display symptoms such as pain or a rash in the wrists, knees, and ankles, or experience fever swings, weight loss, and poor appetite.

Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler, receives patients for orthopedic surgery from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

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