Joint symptoms may be a sign of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a serious condition that can cause permanent joint damage if treatment is delayed. Getting treatment quickly can help preserve joint function and prevent other serious health problems. Know what to watch for so you can take action.
When to See a Doctor If You Are Having Joint Symptoms
Watch for these potential signs and symptoms of RA:
- swollen and tender joints
- swelling and stiffness in joints in the morning that lasts for longer than half an hour
- the same joints on both sides of the body are affected, often the small joints of the hands and feet
- severe tiredness, also called fatigue
- a general feeling of being unwell.
If you have these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will diagnose RA from your symptoms, a physical examination and various tests.
It can be difficult, and often takes time, to diagnose RA as the symptoms can be similar to other types of arthritis. If your doctor suspects you have RA you should be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specialises in treating rheumatoid arthritis.
A rheumatologist can diagnose RA and make sure you get the right treatment. If you have RA and have not seen a rheumatologist, ask your GP about a referral.