Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
The first sign of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is swelling of finger joints, pain, and stiffness. These symptoms then spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders.
More general symptoms – like exhaustion or loss of appetite, or sometimes even a mild fever may also be seen in some people. Symptoms may vary in severity and may fluctuate between periods of pain and normalcy.1
Signs and symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) may include:2
With time, small hard lumps called rheumatoid nodules, that are usually not sensitive to pressure or touch sometimes develop under the skin.
Tender, warm, swollen joints
Joints are commonly swollen on both sides of the body.
Usually worse after long periods of rest, i.e, in the morning, right after waking up.
Due to inactive joints, muscles gradually weaken.
RA progressively affects all joints and therefore, causes tiredness, general physical weakness, and more extreme exhaustion.
The severity of the symptoms of RA is never constant. There may be periods of aggravated symptoms due to increased disease activity in the joints called ‘flares’ or there may be times when symptoms disappear, known as remission.
Usually, flares alternate with periods of relative remission. Longstanding RA may eventually lead to deformity and loss of movement.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) may also be associated with extra-articular manifestations in about 40% of the patients. Although it is not possible to predict their features in early RA, men, smokers and those with more severe joint disease, and worse function are at a risk.
Extra-articular manifestations in RA lead to a worse disease outcome. Anaemia, thrombocytosis and respiratory system involvement are the commonest. Organs that may be affected in such people are:3
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Available from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20353648. Accessed on 26 November 2019.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Rheumatoid arthritis: Overview. 2013 Oct 23 [Updated 2016 Aug 11]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK384455/.
- Cojocaru M, et al. Extra-articular Manifestations in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Maedica (Buchar). 2010;5(4):286–291.