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Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis-Related Pain

Dealing With Rheumatoid Arthritis and Pain

For rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, the pain in the joints of the body can be debilitating. There are several reasons why the pain occurs and a few different options for easing the inflammation in your joints.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain?

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing painful swelling which can lead to joint deformity and bone erosion. With rheumatoid arthritis, your joints feel tender, warm, and stiff. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the smaller joints first, like your fingers, and as the disease progresses, your symptoms can spread to other joints in the body.

As an autoimmune disease, symptoms can also include fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Symptoms vary in severity and go through both periods of flares and remission, where the swelling and pain seemingly fade away. It is considered a flare when your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms get suddenly worse with increased joint pain, joint swelling, and fatigue, and these symptoms last for a period of about three days.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease and pain can come from a variety of reasons, so it is helpful for treatment to learn the cause of your pain. Causes include:


Synovitis is likely the initial reason for your joint pain. This starts when your immune system attacks the lining of the membrane around your joints. The body sends leukocytes (white blood cells) to the area to protect the body. White blood cells usually attack viruses, but in its confused state, the body directs the leukocytes to damage the synovium instead.

The inflammatory chemicals and inflammation of nerve fibers is the presumed cause of pain in most rheumatoid arthritis cases. The inflammation thickens the synovium, and given enough time, it can destroy the cartilage and bone inside the joint.

Joint Misalignment

The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch over time. This causes the joint to lose its shape and alignment, introducing pain when the joint doesn’t move properly.