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

Comment from: tinker sad, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 21

I had my head in the sand, in denial for about a year! We live out in the country so at first I thought I had been bit by a spider. I would rest for a bit and ice the hands/feet and then it would stop, until recently. Now if I lift a suitcase, make up bag or anything my hands/fingers swell way up, turn deep red, and the only thing that helps is plunging my feet in a bath of ice water. Taking Benadryl and NSAIDs did not help. I found a new doctor and she pushed me to do all this bloodwork after I took pictures on my cell phone of my fingers. I have rheumatoid arthritis and it is scary! I am a caretaker for my husband and our farm, and well, it is going to be a big adjustment. I was put on a pain medicine that also helps with the swelling. My guess is I will end up on methotrexate or prednisone. Good luck each and every one of you, this disease is a learning process. Don't give up.

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Comment from: Liz, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 19

To the patient who said her doctor will not treat her because she does not have that much pain in her hands even though she was tested positive for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), find yourself another rheumatologist. I have RA and most of my pain is in my back/neck, hips and knees and feet. It started with swelling in my knees, and stiffness. I also have found that the antibiotic Cipro seems to make my symptoms worse. Also tell all of your dentists, surgeons, etc., before you go under any anesthesia all of the medications you are taking. I am taking Zyprexa and Neurontin and did not divulge this to my oral surgeon and was given a strong pain reliever and I think I may have had an adverse reaction, as shortly after the surgery (root canal) I started getting the symptoms. A healthy diet helps and I am currently taking a once monthly injection. Methotrexate did not help that much. Exercise, even if it is mild such as walking helps also.

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Comment from: Shocked, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 26

Out of the blue, I woke up on January 5, 2016, and felt my hands aching in a way I'd never felt before. Of course, you try to figure it out so I decided that I'd probably clenched my fists all night long. The following night, while the finger/hand pain woke me up constantly, I made a mental note of the position of all my fingers. I'd reposition myself, very careful to have all the fingers straight, not even mildly flexed. Such intense pain. Within three days, both hands were swollen, I had limited range of motion and extreme pain. I couldn't brush my teeth! As the day went by they felt less inflamed but I could tell something was wrong. I made a doctor appointment for the next morning. The doctor suspected rheumatoid arthritis and ordered tons of lab work and 2 days later I was able to see a rheumatologist who diagnosed me based on a very high CCP and presenting symptoms. My RF (rheumatoid factor) was negative. I am taking Plaquenil. I still wonder if this is true! Looking back, I recognize the numbness I kept having in my hands and arms at bedtime, dry scratchy right eye, and dry mouth. The joint pain jumps around.

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Comment from: nana, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 16

When I was working out at the gym, I began to have difficulty with the biceps machine. Every time I gripped the bar to pull towards me my wrists hurt and I lost strength. Also, I was not able to grip a tenpin bowling ball anymore. This was in fall of 2010. After 4 months of this I saw my primary care physician who ran some tests and sent me to a rheumatologist. He did more extensive lab tests, x-rays and ultrasound of my hands and got a definitive diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. He put me on Plaquenil and Fosamax. He also gave me Voltaren for flare-ups. Fortunately it was caught in the early stages and I am able to work and live life as pain free as possible. I have had a nodule removed from my little finger, and have one on my middle finger. I have an appointment with hand surgeon.

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Comment from: captshed, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 19

I have had AID (auto immune disease) for about 15 years, but until recently, it was mostly in the form of skin lesions. I have now been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and cannot believe how my life has changed in such a short time. From being a very active person, to having trouble walking or holding a golf club is awful. My rheumatologist has me on methotrexate, but it hasn't helped and the pain is constant. I feel as if I have trigger finger in both hands.

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