Definite testing for RA in this early stage may be difficult, as X-rays can appear normal.
More sensitive imaging like an ultrasound may show inflammation in an affected joint, but sometimes it won’t.
This is replicated in blood tests, which may or may not have inflammatory markers.
READ MORE: Arthritis symptoms: Three ‘mystery’ signs of painful arthritis
By the third stage of RA, you are able to see the effects of the disease on the joints.
This is when the joints become “bent and deformed”, such as crooked fingers.
These misshapen joints can also press on the nerves causing pain to occur.
What can help RA?
Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the amount of pressure on the joints.
Other helpful factors include:
- Getting enough sleep
- An anti-inflammatory diet
- Eating less red meat
- Herbal remedies, such as turmeric
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are usually the first line in terms of medication.
If you suspect you have RA, do discuss your concerns with your GP who can begin investigating whether you have the condition or not.