What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary greatly from person to person and can be mild, moderate or severe. At the onset of the disease, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are often vague and develop slowly. Symptoms may not include the classic symptom of joint pain that people often associate with rheumatoid arthritis. These indistinct, early symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • General stiffness that lasts more than one hour after rising in the morning
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle achiness throughout the body
  • Weakness

Joint symptoms eventually develop and progress. They generally affect the wrists, fingers, knees, feet and ankles on both sides of the body. Joint symptoms include:

  • Hand and feet deformities
  • Inflammation and warmth
  • Joint destruction that develops within one to two years after the onset of the disease
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Symmetry (both sides equally affected)

Additional symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Eye problems (dry eyes, scleritis)
  • Neuropathy
  • Nodules under the skin
  • Pale skin
  • Pericarditis
  • Redness and inflammation of the skin 
  • Swollen glands

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing, progressive disease that affects the joints of the body with episodes of painful inflammation. It is an autoimmune disease that can also cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels and organs.

The onset of rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, can occur ... Read more about rheumatoid arthritisintroduction


What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but it is classified as an autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system mistakes healthy tissues as dangerous to the body and attacks them. This results in inflammation that can eventually destroy joints and damage blood vessels and organs.

What are the risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis?

... Read more about rheumatoid arthritiscauses


How is rheumatoid arthritis treated?

Rheumatoid arthritis treatment plans use a multifaceted approach and are individualized to the stage of advancement of the disease and your age, medical history, and coexisting diseases or conditions. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but with early recognition and treatment, it is possible to minimize or delay joint damage and complications of the disease, such as chronic pain and dis... Read more about rheumatoid arthritistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.