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: PeterPanMom, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 30

I've was just diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in September 2014. I've had symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)/gastritis since my teens. In September 2014, I had an episode of food poisoning that seemed to trigger immediate RA symptoms! My rheumatologist seemed to think the RA would be temporary because there's a type from food poisoning that goes away. I disagree with him since my symptoms have gotten progressively worse and it's now December 26, 2014. In April of 2013 I began having foot pain which was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. Looking back on it now, I believe it was the beginning of RA. I've had tremendous foot pain for the past 1.5 years. I had to buy special shoes that prevent pronation, with special arch supports inserts. These all provided some relief, but not enough. Now, I use these special support straps wrapped around my arches and ankles underneath my socks. These supportive straps have saved my feet! More recently, I've also been experiencing tremendous pain in my hands, wrists, and elbows. I have trigger-fingers in both ring-fingers and pinkies and carpal tunnel in both arms! I believe these problems are all related to RA! I just saw a hand surgeon and got a total of 6 cortisone shots in both hands and wrists. I think these are helping a lot! I've been on sulfasalazine since September 2014. I guess they've helped the RA some, but I'm not sure yet. Sulfasalazine has helped with the IBS stomach issues!

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Comment from: palmtree lover, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 05

Back in 2000 when I was 33 I had an acute case of fatigue and muscle aches but no stiffness or swelling of any joints. This lasted for about 4 months. Then a remission period for about 3 months and since then I have had occasional flares. Rheumatoid factor is positive but I kept telling my rheumatologist he was wrong because I didn't have the usual symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis other people experience, and he kept saying just wait until you are 50. Well, I am 47 now and I am starting to have pain and stiffness in my joints in the middle of the night and the pain will wake me up. I also feel more tired than usual. Maybe the doctor was right.

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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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