Patient Comments: Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms and Signs

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

Comment from: Alli, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: September 30

I started having pain in my left foot. The doctor tested me for gout and it was negative. A couple of months later I started having pain and stiffness in my left hand that was severe at night. The doctor did blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and I tested positive for anti-CCP. Then the pain started spreading to other joints. I had been having fatigue for a long time but it got much worse. I was so tired some days that I didn't feel like driving myself home from work. My eyes were dry and irritated and I had a dry cough. On the days I had extreme fatigue my voice would get weak as well.

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Comment from: bbabc, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 05

I woke up one morning with a pain in my shoulder and thought I had pulled something in my sleep. The pain continually got worse until using my arm was unbearable, in the mornings especially. I had to take a hot shower to be able to move and get ready for work at all. Over the course of 3 months, as the rheumatoid arthritis progressed, that pain and swelling spread to most of the other joints in my body.

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Comment from: miyoshii, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 04

It happened suddenly about 5 years ago. Pinky finger and ring finger swelled up so painful, red, and bent; looked like I broke my two fingers. Doctor took x-ray and we had a surprise. I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It was so horribly painful and it looks terrible. Now after 5 years I have bent fingers and knobby bones in the same two fingers. It started with an injury, someone I worked with bumped into me. I see it happening on my right hand now just slower. I play the piano and garden to keep positive and take Epsom and sea salt bath almost every day to help me get through my full time job. I also have 8 degenerated discs, 4 in the neck and 4 in the lower back. At my job it is exhausting and I worry that I might not be able to work soon. I am always tired and feel pain more often than before. Not doing the usual stuff I used to do. My feet are getting worse too. I wear steel toe boots and walk on concrete all day. I just hope there is some cure or way to slow it down. I have a lot of living still to do. I also use aromatherapy a lot. I have started breathing exercises and Tai Chi. I hope the best for everyone and thank you for allowing me to share.

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Comment from: worrieduk, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

My knee joints started to hurt first and my muscles around the knee and calf area became painful, then one morning my hands and fingers had pains. Over the months the fingers have started to swell a bit, then my elbows recently have started to hurt and I feel that it is the muscle around the elbow joint and along the arm which are painful. Some days are worse than others, but there is always a dull ache. I am now referring myself to the general physician for further analysis and will look at any diet changes and/or weight loss programs. This onset of rheumatoid arthritis also coincided with me being unable to eat gluten and (possibly) milk products.

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Comment from: Rae, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 02

I'm 39 and just have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I've had troubles with the balls and joints of both my feet since childhood and have been diagnosed with Morton's neuromas. I suffer pain in the feet every day and now I walk with a limp. My second and third toes roll to the sides and my little toes don't even touch the ground, they sit on the fourth toes. Years ago my wrists began to ache, kind of like a carpal tunnel pain. Two years ago I began getting really tired and just felt unwell. My fingers started to hurt. Being very active I couldn't understand why all of the sudden I started to slow down. I went to the doctors and had blood tests done. It came back that I was anemic so I started taking iron tablets. These didn't work and I was still not feeling well so I went back to the doctors and she investigated further. My blood tests showed a negative RA factor but raised ESR and neutropenia. I was put on prednisolone and felt wonderful after a few days. She referred me to a rheumatologist whom I was lucky to see in 3 weeks. I start taking methotrexate (MTX) next week. Today I experience pain in my feet, fingers, wrists and shoulders. I'm stiff every day, have muscle weakness and I know how my day will be the moment I get out of bed. Most days I feel hot with a temperature over 37.5. I don't sleep well and just feel yuck. At the moment I've got bruising and swelling between thumb and forefingers of both hands which came up yesterday. RA isn't pleasant at all but I try to stay positive because stress makes everything worse.

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Comment from: suddenlystiff, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 28

It started about 3 months ago with onset of aches and feeling fatigued. I was in a very stressful situation at work during the time and had been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Then I started experiencing joint pain in my shoulder. Pretty soon it was both shoulders then my elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. The pain was intense but yet I kept getting up and going to work. Eventually after a month of all over joint pain I started experiencing severe swelling in my feet and ankles. The swelling was so extreme that I was unable to wear my normal shoes to work because they didn"t fit. The pain was intolerable. I have a pretty high threshold for pain but, this pain made me cry several times. I missed 3 days of work at that time because I literally couldn"t walk. I had been to my primary care physician (PCP) at that point three times. She put me on prednisone and referred me to a rheumatologist. For someone who"s always been in good health and has never relied on medication it was a bit terrifying and overwhelming. All of my lab tests (5 trips to the lab) came back negative for anything other than a severe vitamin D deficiency and elevated inflammation markers (my feet and ankles looked like they belonged on an elephant!). The rheumatologist just diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) although my lab tests show no markers. He had hoped it was viral and would have gone away by now. Wrong! I"m still dealing with the swelling and pain to the point where it takes all of what little energy I have left to try and stay positive. I"m 41 years old and am having a rough time with this newly diagnosed illness. I"m reading a lot about it and now trying to make an educated decision to start the medication he prescribed last week. I"m finding it impossible to make lemonade out of these lemons life has thrown my way.

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Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatments Question: What treatments have been effective for your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Prognosis Question: What's the prognosis for your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Diet Question: Discuss the diet or other lifestyle changes you've made to relieve symptoms and signs of RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Diagnosis Question: What led to your rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Experience With RA and OA Question: Please describe your experience with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

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