Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease mainly affecting the joints. Due to its nature, there will be variation in the way it affects different people. Also, the timeline of its progress varies between individuals due to the difference in their physiology. The disease worsens if medical attention is not given, and it progresses through different stages like other autoimmune diseases. Keep in mind that this is a lifelong condition, and treatments focus on slowing down the progression of the disease and managing the symptoms. Read on to know more about the different stages of rheumatology arthritis.
Patterns Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression
The symptoms of RA gradually worsen over time leading to joint damage. The symptoms have a recurring nature, and the frequencies vary between people. During times of remission, it is easier to manage RA; while, during flare-ups, the condition becomes more intense. Listed below are the main factors that determine the progress of RA.
- Family history of rheumatoid arthritis
- The age of the individual
- The presence of specific antibodies
- Age at the time RA was diagnosed
- Individual disease triggers
Based on these factors and test results, doctors can determine the progression of your rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is almost impossible to predict exactly how RA will progress for you over time. This is true for other rheumatology diseases as well because they affect every body part due to autoimmunity. Also, the most common symptom in all these conditions is inflammation.
Different Stages Of Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression
In stage 1 of RA, there is inflammation inside joints causing joint pain, swelling, or stiffness. This is because the immune system attacks the synovium, the soft tissue that lines the joints. Also, there is no damage to the joints at this stage.
In stage 2 of RA, there is moderate damage to joints. The swelling of synovium begins to damage the cartilages that act as a cushion between bones. Its damage causes pain and decreases mobility. This is because the affected joint’s range of motions becomes limited.
Stage 3 of RA is considered severe because the damage extends to bones. Damaged cartilages in joints lead to the bones rubbing together causing them to wear away. As a result, there will be more joint swelling, causing severe pain. Apart from this, there can be mobility loss and muscle weakness.
Stage 4 is the last stage of RA, and there is no inflammation at this stage. The joints do not work because they are completely damaged, and the bones fuse. People may still experience swelling, pain, stiffness, and mobility loss.
On a final note, it will take several years to progress through all the stages of rheumatology arthritis, and some people do not go through all of these stages.