Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an uncertain disease: it can resemble other conditions, symptoms will fluctuate, and it’s often difficult to predict how it will progress. For some people, it hits early and follows a distinct pattern of pain, swelling and stiffness, but others struggle for years with misdiagnoses and ineffective treatments.
In any case, RA is more than just a joint problem, and it warrants a different plan of attack than other types of arthritis. Don’t wait for your body to break down to call your doctor – if you notice any of these suspicious symptoms, consult with a rheumatologist to check for RA.
Feeling sleepy is one thing, but an exhaustion that’s difficult to overcome is another issue altogether.Fatigue is one of the first signs that your autoimmune response is kicking into overdrive, and it can last for weeks or months before any other symptoms begin to pop up.
2. Swelling in the Knuckle Joints
Typically, RA causes the knuckles at the base of your fingers, and those in the middle of your fingers, to swell. While the swelling tends to happen in both hands, not every finger is necessarily affected, and it’s not always painful.
3. Pain in the Balls of the Feet
If you’re experiencing the strange and uncomfortable sensation of walking on hard bumps, your feet may be showing signs of RA inflammation. Swelling on the ball of the foot – that is, the cushioned part beneath the base of the toes – can hit as suddenly as knuckle swelling, but often is worse right after you get out of bed in the morning.
4. Tingling in the Hands and Fingers
RA is directly related to carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition that affects the nerve pathways in the arms and wrists. The most common symptom is tingling or a numb sensation – similar to the feeling of “pins and needles,” or when you hit your funny bone.
5. Symmetrical Pain
RA pain can come on fast, disappear, and then reappear in an entirely different place. However, in most cases, it hits both sides of the body simultaneously: each wrist may begin to ache, both ankles may be sore, or the knuckles on both your right and left hand may swell.
6. Slow Healing
If you’re an active person, you’re probably used to feeling some aches and pains, but a sore wrist or ankle that goes on for weeks may be something more than a simple strain.
7. Morning Stiffness
Waking up stiff and achy could mean you’re getting sick or you’ve strained some muscles, but if it strikes the top of your wrists, elbows, or fingers, it may point to a deeper problem.
8. Flu-Like Symptoms
Fatigue, low-grade fever and a vague feeling of discomfort are not uncommon in the early stages of RA. You may feel weak and unmotivated, and your mouth and eyes may feel dry, too. Sometimes these symptoms will come and go, or they could hang around for an extended period of time – signs that your body is in a state of inflammation.