After fighting joint pain, fevers, fatigue, and swelling, a WebMD Community member writes that she has just been diagnosed with RA. She says her hands and wrists hurt, her knees feel locked, and she can't put any weight on her elbows without feeling pain. She's scared and asks what to expect -- from her illness and from the rheumatologist.
Members reassured her that she's not alone and told her what would most likely happen at her doctor visit. She can expect questions about her symptoms -- what they are, when they started, how long they last, and what makes them better or worse. The rheumatologist will look at her joints for swelling, redness, and tenderness. She'll have blood work, possibly X-rays, and will talk about medications.
When rheumatoid arthritis flares up, it makes joints feel stiff and achy. That discomfort may go away at times, but there may still be permanent damage. Eventually rheumatoid arthritis can harm joints so they don't work as well even when the disease itself is not active. How does joint damage occur, and how can it be prevented?
Periods of active inflammation are called high disease activity. When joints are inflamed, white blood cells enter the joint space.
Inside the joint, these white blood cells...