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Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Joint symptoms usually involve multiple joints. The most commonly affected joints are the wrists and fingers. Other joints can also be affected. This can include the knees, feet, elbow, hips, neck and ankles. Usually if joints on one side of the body are affected, then joints on the other side of the body are also affected.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, but it can be managed. Symptoms usually flare up and subside intermittently. Each person is different. In some people, symptoms get worse over time, while in others, there may be long periods without any disease activity.

Inflamed Joint
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Joint symptoms include:

  • Increased pain and stiffness in the morning and after inactivity
  • Morning stiffness and pain that lasts more than 30 minutes
  • Red, swollen, warm joints
  • Deformed, misshapen joints

Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Intense fatigue, decreased energy
  • Muscle aches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever and sweats
  • Depression
  • Problems sleeping
  • Bumps occurring under the skin (rheumatoid nodules)

Conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Sjogren's syndrome—an inflammatory condition involving the tear and salivary glands
  • Felty syndrome—three conditions marked by rheumatoid arthritis, enlarged spleen, and low levels of white blood cells
  • Caplan syndrome—marked by rheumatoid arthritis and pneumoconiosis (lung disease in people exposed to coal mining dust or asbestos)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Raynaud's disease and phenomenon
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Muscle weakness
  • Kidney disease

Revision Information

  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/rheumatoid-arthritis. Accessed July 24, 2013.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Rheumatic%5FDisease/default.asp. Updated April 2009. Accessed July 24, 2013.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated July 2, 2013. Accessed July 24, 2013.