Patient Comments: Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms and Signs

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

Comment from: Paula, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 20

I was 27years old and my 2nd child was one year old when I noticed one of my fingers was inflamed, swollen. The swelling wouldn't subside. Tests showed RA (rheumatoid arthritis). Then progressively other joints started to get affected and I had much pain, not able to do up the buttons on my children's clothing. Dressing myself was very painful. I would ring my mother in tears not knowing what was happening to my body. I was hoping I would lose it after my 3rd child, as I had heard sometimes it leaves when you have children, it was not to be, I am now 50. I tried numerous medicines. I was on Arava up until 6 months ago which gave me good relief, but wanted a rest off medicines, (23 years). I was coping ok up until 2 months ago, taking prednisone 5 mg every 2nd day to get some relief. I will probably go back on Arava.

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Comment from: Katrinka66, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 20

I was just fine - jogged 5 miles each day, helped my husband build a three story addition on to the house, worked on rebuilding player pianos, sewed for others, etc. One evening about 7 years ago, my fingers began to tingle, an odd feeling. Then I went to get up from the couch and my knees pained like someone was cutting them off. By 4 AM, I was screaming to my husband to "cut off my hands". The pain was unbearable and my wrists and fingers were twisted to one side. He rushed me to the emergency room and they thought maybe it was a spider bite or something. No one really knew what to do. I was sent home when the pain let up enough for me to walk. The next night the same thing, awake at 4 AM in agony. The next day I had an appointment with my psychiatrist as I had had severe panic disorder and depression since age 23 and needed a refill. He took one look at my twisted wrist and fingers and said, "Oh my goodness, you have rheumatoid arthritis!" He pulled strings and got me into see a "booked up" rheumatologist the next day. Every joint in my body was inflamed and my CRP turned out to be about 405! I was put on prednisone 5 mg each night, but became psychotic because of this drug and could not take it at all. I was then put on methotrexate for one year, but it did nothing to help. (I later learned doctors have to follow "protocol".) Finally, I was started on Humira. Week by week, my hands began hurting less and less and I was able to hold a glass of water and feed myself. Then I could walk again with pain, but I could walk. Then I began my housework, cooking, sewing clothes, mowing the lawn, helping my husband with carpentry work, etc. Without the Humira, I think I would be dead by now, or just lying uselessly in bed screaming in pain. I've been in severe accidents when I was younger and known pain, but the pain of sudden-onset RA is indescribable.

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Comment from: Shelly, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 24

I began experiencing sharp pain and stiffness in my right hand. This pain always occurs in the morning and may not go away. I thought that I hurt my hand somehow but I could not remember what I did. I also began to experience extreme fatigue and malaise. About 4 months later, I went to the doctor and after many repeat blood tests to rule out Lyme disease and Lupus, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I am adjusting to the medications Plaquenil and methotrexate, but they make me feel sick also. I have a ringing in my ears and loss of appetite. I sometimes have problems writing, dressing, or writing with my right hand.

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Comment from: Thunt, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: July 15

I have just been informed I have rheumatoid arthritis in my neck. Also present were neurological symptoms at which time an MRI was performed which said everything was normal. But I get a hot/ burning feeling in my extremities, some internal twitching/tremors and feel very tired.

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Comment from: Nancy M, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

I thought I had TMJ and carpal tunnel syndrome. At the same time, both of my ankles and elbows were inflamed. My orthopedic surgeon referred me back to my primary care for blood work. Our dog had been sick with leptospirosis and I was the one to have the most contact with him. I felt as sick as the dog. I believe this virus in the dog somehow spurred the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in me. I did not test positive for leptospirosis, but my RA factor was at 400 when diagnosed. My flare lasted about three weeks. With the help of prednisone, we got that under control. I have never been so exhausted.

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Comment from: Pbella, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 20

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 4 months ago with a positive blood test, although I believe I have had it since 2004. None of my doctors had ever tested me for RA. All my doctors were saying they thought it was multiple sclerosis. I have had spinal fusion surgery on my L4, L5. I suffered from weakness and fatigue for years. Muscle pain and joint pain but no swelling. I have had numerous flairs where I could not walk. I have been taking hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) for four months now with 1000 mg of fish oil a day and I try to walk on a treadmill for at least 20 minutes a day. I haven't had a flair so it"s working for me. It"s hard to get motivated but the 20 minute walk helps. I find, the more active I am the better I feel. I feel for everyone out there with RA but let"s not let it control us let"s control it.

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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.
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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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