The Four Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis Explained

Close up of mature womans hands. Health care giving, nursing home. Parental love of grandmother. Old age related diseases.

Understanding the onset and symptoms of a given disease is important for individuals to better understand their situation and take meaningful steps to limit its effect on them. 

One such condition is rheumatoid arthritis.

Few are familiar with the development of this autoimmune disorder and what happens when they’re diagnosed. 

Family Medicine and Geriatric Clinic wants to inform residents of the Rio Grande Valley about this condition so they can recognize the symptoms early and seek out the medical care they need. With a holistic approach to medicine, our family doctor in Edinburg wants to help you understand the four stages of rheumatoid arthritis.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune, and inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack the body. The inflammation that results from this disorder can severely damage bodily tissue.

Generally, this condition attacks the joints, although it can also affect:

  • eyes
  • internal organs
  • nerve tissue
  • skin
  • blood vessels

While symptoms include aching joints and fatigue, let’s get into exactly how this disease begins and then develops over time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Four Stages

The stages of rheumatoid arthritis are as follows:

1. Initial Joint Inflammation – Towards the beginning, this disease causes joint inflammation as well as swelling of the tissue known as “the synovial membrane.” This tissue prevents joints from grinding against one another, which inflammation impedes. This stage most commonly affects the hands and feet.

2. Internal Damage and Increased Pain Levels – At this point, the inflammation has likely started to cause cartilage damage in addition to further degeneration of the synovial tissue. People may begin to experience fatigue or low-grade fever also.

3. Bone Damage and More Symptoms – Unfortunately, this stage can severely limit sufferers from performing daily activities. The inflammation can become so severe that bones and even internal organs are affected. Joint deformities may also become noticeable.

4. End-Stage Rheumatoid Arthritis – Here, individuals will see full deterioration of joints, even suffering from critical bone and organ damage. Though the damage is nearly irreversible, remission is still possible at this stage with proper medical care.

Your Family Medicine Doctor in Edinburg, Ready To Serve You

It’s always important to ask questions to your family doctor in Edinburg if you don’t understand something — and always remember — treatment is possible!

Remember that the physician and associates at Family Medicine and Geriatric Center are always happy and eager to help through our holistic approach to medicine, including the body, mind, and spirit. Our office not only focuses on providing exceptional medical care, but also helping you to make critical lifestyle changes that can meaningfully improve your health.  

Family Medicine and Geriatric Center of Edinburg, Texas, is here to keep you informed and offer a holistic approach to patient care. We are only a call away, so reach out any time to discover more!