15 Early Symptoms and Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

Get a Grip on Rheumatoid Arthritis
Picture of a man with arthritis joint pain

What is the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. To date, the goal of treatment in rheumatoid arthritis is

  • to reduce joint inflammation and pain,
  • maximize joint function, and
  • prevent joint destruction and deformity.

What are early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and what areas of the body are affected?

While early RA symptoms can be mimicked by other diseases, the symptoms and signs are very characteristic of rheumatoid disease. The 15 early rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and signs discussed in this article include the following:

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Reviewed on 7/19/2016

Firestein, Gary S., et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, 9th Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2013.

Temprano, Katherine K. "Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical Presentation." Medscape.com. Apr. 14, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/331715-clinical>.


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  • Rheumatoid Arthritis Early Symptoms and Signs - Experience

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  • Rheumatoid Arthritis Early Symptoms and Signs - Unusual Symptoms and Signs

    Did you have any unusual signs or symptoms that preceded the onset of your RA?


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