Rheumatoid Arthritis Signs & Symptoms

Being a rheumatologist I see signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that are often very difficult to deal with given the pain it causes.  Often, many people don’t realize the signs and symptoms they are experiencing is in fact rheumatoid arthritis.  Knowing the symptoms allow you to address these symptoms early, get a diagnosis and treatment plan so you can do things to reduce the pain and stress.

Joint Symptoms may be gradual over time and include:

  • Joint stiffness lasting more than 1 hour
  • Decrease range of motion of joint
  • Joint redness
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint pain at rest or movement
  • Joint deformities mostly in the hands and feet

The joints that can be affected include hands, wrists, feet, knees, hips, ankles, elbows, shoulder, neck and jaw.  Most of the time there is a symmetrical distribution (affects both sides of the body).

Most people don’t realize that RA can affect other organ systems in the body and not just the joints.  There are patients who complain of feeling like they have the “flu” or a viral illness.


  • Generalized fatigue
  • Fever
  • Body aches or malaise
  • Nonpainful skin nodules (elbows, Achilles tendon, hand tendons)
  • Skin ulcers (inflammation of skin blood vessels, vasculitis)
  • Shortness of breath (inflammation of lining around lung, pleurisy)
  • Chest pain/pressure (inflammation of lining around heart or heart muscle, pericarditis or myocarditis)
  • Dry eyes (decreased tear production)
  • Eye pain or redness (Scleritis)
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain (enlarged liver or spleen)
  • Decrease appetite
  • Muscle weakness (myositis)
  • Numbness and tingling or sensation of pins and needles in hands and feet
  • Depression

Make sure to see your primary care physician and a rheumatologist if you experience these symptoms to get evaluated promptly!

Disclaimer:  This blog contains my personal opinion based on personal and clinical experience, tips from trainers, health coaches and lastly research.  This blog does not endorse specific treatments, procedures, products.  You should always consult with a doctor, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional to discuss your own health and lifestyle goals and regimen based on your medical history.  Thank you for reading!