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Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The first signs of [rheumatoid] arthritis often do not stand out and appear similar to many other diseases: tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite, low fever, and swollen glands.

Rheumatoid arthritis evolves and joint pain symptoms begin to appear: stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning; swollen joints; limited motion in the joints; and joint deformity.

Often joints in the hands and feet are first affected: toes, ankles, fingers, and wrists, but rheumatoid arthritis can eventually affect almost any joint in the body including elbows, shoulders, knees, hips, jaws, and neck.

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Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are usually symmetrical, that is, joints on both sides of the body will be affected.

Rheumatoid arthritis' symptoms can come and go, depending on the amount of inflammation in the body. When the inflammation is under control, symptoms can disappear for weeks, months, or even years. When inflammation flares up, the symptoms return. During flare-ups, joints can become stiff, red, and painful. The lining tissue of the joint is inflamed, producing excess synovial fluid. This synovial fluid also becomes thick, limiting motion.

As rheumatoid arthritis develops, other symptoms can appear, including burning and itching in the eyes, chest pain when breathing, firm lumps called nodules appearing under the skin surface that can be painful, and tingling or burning in the hands and feet.

Eventually rheumatoid arthritis can cause damage to cartilage and bones, causing joint deformity and lack of motion. If rheumatoid arthritis affects a joint in the voice box, it can affect the voice by causing hoarseness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Information & Resources

Rheumatologist Doctor

What Is a Rheumatology Doctor?

Your First Visit to the Rheumatologist

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Treatment & Care of Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Guides

Discussing Your Symptoms

Exercising With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis Complications

Living With and Managing Your RA

Pain Management With RA

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