Patient Comments: Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms and Signs

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

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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Comment from: adekoya, 35-44 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 24

I developed pain in my legs, shoulder blades, ribs, right hand, and eyes. I also developed a high fever, nausea, and dark urine.

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Published: June 23

I was seeing a chiropractor for back, neck, and shoulder pain. He's the one who suggested that I might have arthritis. Sure enough, after two rheumatologists and lab results of a positive RA titer and a strong positive anti-CCP result, I found out I had RA. I had a very demanding and stressful job at the time, and I barely made it out of the bed. I was so stiff; with pain in my hips, knees, hands. I had to quit that job. I'm currently taking methotrexate, Humira, folic acid, and the occasional solumedrol injection. I'm 35 now and am currently dealing with extreme fatigue and pain while trying to work, attend college, and take care of my family.

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Published: June 02

I was an active, healthy male. I was diagnosed with RA at age 44 (9 months after a minor motorcycle accident that injured my left wrist). My symptoms began with a general feeling of fatigue and malaise. Then a few months later, morning numbness in the fronts of both feet that lasted for a few hours. I saw a podiatrist and was mis-diagnosed with "Morton's Neuroma". As my symptoms progressed, I had sharp shoulder, wrist and elbow pains during the night. Then, a gradual stiffening of my right, pinky finger; followed by stiff, sore and swollen fore and index fingers predominately on my right hand, but also on the left. I was diagnosed with RA and Hypo-thyroid initially. After taking "Thyroxin" for about 4 weeks, I began taking "Hydroxychloroquine" and "Naproxen". My thyroid corrected and I stopped taking Thyroxin. My RA symptoms persisted with primarily sore, stiff hands in the mornings (3-4 hrs), sore ankles, a swollen elbow and muscle fatigue. After about 4 months, we added "Methotrexate" for 3 months with some success (no more swollen elbow or sharp shoulder pains and less sore hands), however, my liver enzyme count became elevated too high. I've now (5 months) been taking "Sulfasalazine" (3 grams/day) with "Hydroxychloroquine" (400 mg/day) and am having much less swelling in my hands and ankles now. Some days are better than others. I have much less energy than I used to. I stopped working (6 months after my diagnosis) because the medicine didn't eliminate the pain, fatigue and swelling; and I could no longer move heavy objects without possibly causing permanent damage to my joints. I was approved for Social Security Disability benefits immediately (after initial 6 month waiting period). I'm hopeful that my symptoms will go away one day or at least be controlled with medication.

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Patient Comments

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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?

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