Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
What are the symptoms of RA?
Symptoms of RA vary from person to person and can include joint pain, swelling and
stiffness, as well as general physical symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain.
Complications from advanced RA include joint damage leading to deformity and limited
range of motion.
Symptoms of RA
RA is a progressive disease. Initial symptoms of RA include swelling of the synovial lining,
causing pain, warmth, stiffness, redness and swelling around the joint. Following initial symptoms is
the rapid division of growth and cells, or pannus, which causes the synovium to
thicken. In the later stages of the disease, the inflamed cells release enzymes that may digest
bone and cartilage, often causing the involved joint to lose its shape and alignment,
more pain, and loss of movement.
Other physical symptoms can include:
- Flu-like symptoms, including low-grade fever
- Pain after prolonged sitting
- Flares of disease activity followed by remission or disease inactivity
- Rheumatoid nodules, or lumps of tissue under the skin
- Muscle pain
- Loss of appetite, weight loss, cold and/or sweaty hands and feet
Rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritis
Although there are similarities between osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis
(RA), the two have very different causes, symptoms, and treatment. Two of the primary
differences are that OA usually affects weight-bearing joints (back, hip, knee) and
is associated with aging, injury, or obesity. This is another reason why it is important
for you to see a rheumatologist for diagnosis and treatment of your condition.