The issue with autoimmune diseases is that they can be very tough to diagnose. Some of the symptoms just don’t give doctors enough information about the patient’s condition, as they are present in many different autoimmune diseases, as well as other illnesses.
From all the symptoms, among the most common ones is joint pain. It’s present in a large number of autoimmune diseases, so identifying the cause of the pain gets increasingly difficult.
The most common autoimmune disease that attacks joints is autoimmune arthritis. This shouldn’t come off as much of a surprise because arthritis is, in fact, joint inflammation.
Autoimmune Arthritis Conditions and Their Symptoms
Arthritis can be a very dangerous disease because it can cause severe pain and limit you no matter what you do. The most common kinds of autoimmune arthritis are rheumatoid, psoriatic, and lupus.
Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the synovial membrane, which is the joint lining. This causes inflammation, which then permanently damages a joint. The most common symptoms of this form of arthritis include:
- Excessive amounts of pain, most notably when moving joints
- Difficulty moving
- Reduced range of motion
- Reduced ability to do activities of daily living (ADL)
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen joints
- Tender or warm joints
- Stiff joints, notably in the morning or following a period of inactivity
Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk Factors
Rheumatoid arthritis has two risk factors that are not necessarily seen in other sorts of arthritis, and those are smoking and exposure to certain materials.
Smokers are not only more likely to develop this autoimmune disease, but they are also more likely to end up with more severe rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. This gets even worse when coupled with genetic factors, as having a predisposition for this disease further increases the risk of actually developing it.
Exposure to materials such as silica and asbestos is connected with the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. People that are exposed to increased amounts of dust, such as emergency workers, are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis doesn’t only attack the joints, it also tends to attack the skin, as well as the attachment points of ligaments and tendons. It is a chronic disease that can hit your joints on both sides of your body, but it may also do so on one side only. Although your symptoms come and go, this disease gets worse over time.
This autoimmune disease is quite similar to rheumatoid arthritis, and they do have some overlapping symptoms, such as painful joints that are also warm, swollen, and tender. However, there are some other symptoms as well:
- Hand and foot swelling
- Foot pain
Spondylitis is a joint inflammation that hits the lower back, targeting the area between the pelvis and the spine, as well as the joints between the spinal vertebrae.
The interesting thing with the swelling of hands and feet, more specifically fingers and toes, is that it can appear before the joint inflammation. Likewise, psoriasis sometimes takes its toll before arthritis does.
Another area that psoriatic arthritis often attacks is the foot. Since it tends to hit the attachment points where your ligaments and tendons connect with the bones, it may cause foot and Achilles tendon pain.
Psoriatic Arthritis Risk Factors
Risk factors that are associated with this form of arthritis are:
- Having psoriasis
- Increased chance due to family history
- Being 30 to 50 years old
Among all the possible causes for psoriatic arthritis, having psoriasis is the biggest. This severely increases the chance of developing the disease, especially when psoriasis is present on the nails.
Another increasingly common risk factor of psoriatic arthritis is having a family member with it. The genetic factor usually plays a big role in the development of this disease.
As the name suggests, reactive arthritis is a form of arthritis that is caused by an infection of a body part that has nothing to do with the joints. An infection of the urinary tract and genitals are among the most common causes.
While it can’t be cured, reactive arthritis disappears on its own in six to twelve months in most cases. Besides the ankle and foot joints, it often attacks the knees, but the inflammation also tends to affect the eyes and skin. Other symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Toe and finger swelling
- Issues with the urinary tract
- Skin issues, such as rashes and a sore mouth
- Enthesitis, soft tissue inflammation
Reactive Arthritis Risk Factors
Risk factors unique to reactive arthritis include:
- Being 20 to 40 years old
- A genetic marker
- Certain sex factors
There is a link between a particular genetic marker and this form of arthritis. However, most people that have the marker still do not develop this disease.
While women are more likely to develop some form of arthritis in general, this is not the case with reactive arthritis. If this disease is developed in response to a food-related infection, then there’s the same chance for women and men to develop it. But if the reactive arthritis comes from sexually transmitted bacteria, such as chlamydia, men are at a higher risk than women.
Stand Your Ground
Arthritis, the most common autoimmune disease that attacks joints, is extremely dangerous, especially since it cannot be fully treated. However, you don’t have to pay for expensive surgeries to alleviate it.
Since obesity is one of the biggest causes of arthritis, losing weight is the first recommended course of action, and it will help reduce the symptoms. Having a diet that consists of all-natural foods is sure to help increase your mobility.
Because your range of motion is so drastically decreased, consider exercising regularly. Water exercises are especially useful, as the water reduces stress on the joints. Yoga and tai chi help as well, and so does massage of the affected joints.
Finally, think about becoming an autoimmune warrior. Living an optimistic, stress-free life and resorting to natural remedies can be crucial when fighting such diseases.