One thing I can vouch for is as with most ailments, early detection and diagnosis for RA are crucial for being able to treat symptoms, manage pain, and slow progression.  In my case an early diagnosis of RA helped me with an individualized treatment plan so that I can continue living a good quality of life.

One should be on the lookout for specific symptoms, such as morning stiffness (particularly in the small joints of the hands or feet) that doesn’t dissipate within about 30 minutes after getting out of bed, joint pain on both sides of the body and warmth and redness around the joints and the swelling, and stiffness along with fatigue, muscle pain weakness and worse joint stiffness after sleeping or prolonged sitting. Getting in and out of bed, bathing and drying yourself, running errands or doing chores, turning faucets on and off, tying shoelaces and other simple and basic activities.

Personally I have seen diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis may be delayed or missed because early symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches, and weakness, can develop slowly. They can also be easily attributed to other conditions, such as aging, excessive exercise, general malaise, influenza.

Some people seek medical attention only once the symptoms of RA start to have an impact on their daily activities, especially work. However, only seeking help once symptoms are severe enough to have an impact might lead to significant delays. Some might further want to try self-managing the symptoms first (e.g. using over the counter painkillers). If they wait to see whether their own remedies have an effect first, this again might mean delays of weeks or months. A lot of well-wishers advise a barrage of coping strategies and this results in a loss of peak treatment time.

The root of this delay is a widespread lack of knowledge. People with symptoms do not recognize that they might be suffering from the disease or what the consequences of delaying going to a doctor might be.

Another contributing factor I feel is people go to visit GPs who may not be well-informed about the disease and so not adept at picking it out from the hundreds of other musculoskeletal conditions they see, leading to repeat visits from patients and delay in referring them to a rheumatologist/specialist for a diagnosis.

For sure it’s not the patients fault but yes in today’s day and age ailment awareness is crucial for wellbeing for self and family!

Let’s share more information and personal experiences and spread the awareness mission far and wide.

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