Patient Comments: Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms and Signs

What were your symptoms and signs at the onset of your rheumatoid arthritis?

A Doctor's View on 15 Early Symptoms and Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Read the Comment by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Early RA symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA include the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, and the knees and hip joints. Joint inflammation causes stiffness. Warmth, redness, and pain may vary in degree. Read the entire Doctor's View

Published: June 05

I was diagnosed with RA at the age of 18 after I began feeling pain and swelling in my hands. I was also very tired and lethargic. I am now 46. Over the years I have experienced different degrees of pain. It ranges from feeling tender to feeling like flaming hot metal spikes have been pushed through each joint in my hands and wrists. Some days, I wake up and I no longer have what one would consider hands. I have clubs! When asked how I feeling these mornings I reply, " I feel swell!" I have gone without symptoms for years at a time....each time I became pregnant my symptoms stopped and remained non-existent anywhere from 3 to 9 years. Lately its back and I am noticing my fingers are beginning to slide. I am afraid to take the Meds due to the potential side effects. I'm not willing to throw those dice.

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Published: June 05

I'm 59 years of age and have a number of health problems for several years. One being a rare muscle disease called myofascial syndrome which is very painful and I stay exhausted. I just finished chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer. I've noticed I get tired very easily which the doctor told me I would for about a year after chemo. I was also diagnosed with RA and some days I hurt so badly in my shoulders I couldn't raise my arms at all without crying out in pain. Just before I found out I had breast cancer I broke my back which did not heal properly with just a back brace. The doctor fist told me the chemo made it worse but we've about decided it's a combination of the treatments and the RA. I've tried several anti-inflammatory drugs which cause my stomach to hurt very bad for the RA and don't know what to do at this time except take pain medication and Advil. I'm looking forward to some relief soon.

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Published: June 05

Pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints of my fingers. I also noticed I was often tired, even after sleeping for 8 or 9 hours. Upon waking my eyes often felt grainy.

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Published: June 04

My thumb and index finger joints on both hands are inflamed and sore.

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Published: June 04

My symptoms started with what I thought was the flu - extreme body aches and exhaustion (no vomiting). Although I felt better, I never felt 100%. Two weeks later I woke up on a Saturday morning and even without the lights on could tell that my hands were very swollen and stiff. Only once I got in the shower did I find that my ankles, toes, knees, neck and elbows were also swollen. I went to an urgent care who tested me for "life threatening" problems and was then sent to my primary two days later. My primary doctor ran blood tests that came back fine, yet the inflammation never went down nor did I see improvement in my neck's range of motion. Finally in May I went to a specialist who diagnosed me with RA. I'm currently on Relafen and see the specialist next week to obtain additional blood test results. I was diagnosed one week before my 37th birthday.

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Published: June 04

My daughter (age 15 ) was diagnosed today with this. Her symptoms were swollen and sore feet and sore and swollen fingers.

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Published: June 03

Nearly 3 years ago, at the age of 38, my knees suddenly got very swollen and painful so that it was impossible for me to squat down or navigate stairs, etc. I was very active at the time and had just finished up re-landscaping my front yard so I thought I had maybe injured my knees but also being aware of my mom's history with osteoarthritis, I made an appointment with a rheumatologist. When, after examining me, she looked at me and told me I did not have osteoarthritis, but rheumatoid arthritis, I had no idea what the difference was. When I did some research I was surprised because there is no history of RA in my family. Prednisone quickly bought the pain and inflammation under control. I have never tested positive for the RF factor and for the first 2.5 years I had a relatively mild case and did well on Plaquenil and NSAIDs with maybe 2 or 3 flares that required a steroid dose pack. All that changed about six months ago and my disease has now progressed to a more severe state. I have now been on prednisone for about six months, started methotrexate about 4 months ago and since being on all of this has not worked to control the inflammation and joint damage (just within the past few months), I am starting Humira in addition to everything else this week. So, hopefully, that will bring this under control and into remission.

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