Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Unfortunately, pain is a fact of life for many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It often occurs when there is inflammation of the tendons, the ligaments, or the tissue that lines the joints. Acute pain is temporary, lasting only a few seconds or longer, and goes away as healing occurs. Chronic pain is more common; it can last for weeks or up to a lifetime.
Most forms of rheumatoid arthritis are associated with pain that can be divided into two general categories: acute and chronic. Acute pain is temporary; it can last a few seconds or longer but wanes as healing occurs. Some examples of things that cause acute pain include burns, cuts, and fractures. Chronic pain, such as that seen in people with rheumatoid arthritis, ranges from mild to severe and can last weeks, months, years, or a lifetime.
Pain is the body's warning system, alerting you that something is wrong. It is an unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage to a person's body. Specialized nervous system cells (neurons) that transmit pain signals are found throughout the skin and other body tissues. These cells respond to things such as injury or tissue damage.
For example, when a harmful agent such as a sharp knife comes in contact with your skin, chemical signals travel from neurons in the skin through nerves in the spinal cord to your brain, where they are interpreted as pain.
Chronic pain is a major health problem in the United States and is one of the most weakening effects of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects about 2.1 million Americans, is the most disabling form of arthritis.