First Symptoms of RA

First Symptoms of RA

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease where your immune system attacks your joints, causing inflammation and pain. It mostly affects the hands, wrists, and feet. This is a long-term and disabling disease that needs to be detected early and treated properly.

That is why it’s of vital importance that you understand the early signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. If treated early and correctly, it could help save a lifetime of chronic pain.

15 Early Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

    1. Fatigue

Before you notice any pain or swelling in your joints, you may feel extremely tired and have a lack of energy. This can happen anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before other symptoms arise. 

Fatigue can be caused by your body’s reaction to inflammation, poor sleep, anemia, medication, or a lack of appetite. This fatigue may affect your everyday activities, relationships, work productivity, or sex drive. 

    1. Fever

Inflammation in joints may cause people to feel unwell and feverish. When the inflammation is active, a mild or slight temperature elevation should be expected. 

Once again, fevers may precede any noticeable effects on the joints. 

    1. Weight Loss

One of the indirect effects of inflammation is unexplained weight loss. When people with RA experience fevers and fatigue, it often leads to a lost appetite. 

    1. Stiffness

Stiffness may occur in 1 or 2 small joints, often in your fingers. In addition to specific joints, you may experience a general feeling of stiffness in your body. 

More specifically, morning stiffness is a symptom that many with RA experience. By sitting still for more than one hour (let alone a full eight hours of sleep), joints will stiffen up and can take a few hours to get back to normal. 

    1. Joint Tenderness

Joint tenderness most often affects the hands and feet of those with RA. In the hands, joints in the middle and at the base of fingers may feel tender when pressed or during movement.

In feet, joints at the base of your toes may be tender. This can cause people to walk on their heels or lift their toes as they walk, creating more discomfort and pain. 

    1. Joint Pain

It may sound obvious, but a lot of people will ignore joint pain for any number of reasons. It is most common to feel it in the fingers, wrists, and feet as early signs of rheumatoid arthritis. 

When your joints experience inflammation, it makes the lining of the joint thicker and causes the production of extra fluid. Both of these factors put pressure on the capsule that surrounds the joint, which then irritates the nerve endings and causes varying degrees of pain.

    1. Joint Swelling

Joints that look swollen in the hands and feet are generally a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. Swelling does tend to be more apparent as RA progresses, but subtle swelling could be an early sign. 

    1. Joint Redness

When inflammation occurs around your joints, it can often give your joints a red look. If you experience any sort of discoloration on your hands or feet that is accompanied by discomfort around the joint, it is worth seeing a specialist immediately to check for RA or other possible causes.

    1. Joint Warmth

Joint warmth is hard to detect sometimes, but it is often present before redness, swelling, or pain occur in the joint. The warmth is caused by inflammation and can sometimes be warm-to-the-touch in some patients.

If your joints ever feel hot, burning, or tender to the touch it is important you don’t ignore those symptoms as early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is crucial.

    1. Numbness and Tingling

When a joint becomes inflamed or swollen, it can pinch the nerves responsible for sensations that pass next to it. If that nerve becomes overly irritated from the pressure or inflammation, it sends a sensation of pain, numbness, or tingling to your brain.

Slightly similar to the feeling of hitting your ‘funny bone’, the numbness and tingling associated with RA is most often felt in the hands, wrist, and elbows.

    1. Decrease in Range of Motion

In the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, people may notice that they are having trouble bending their wrist or fingers back and forth. 

As RA progresses, excessive damage and inflammation to the joints could affect tendons and ligaments.

    1. Joints Affected on Both Sides

It is very common for those with RA to experience pain in the same joints on both sides of the body. This type of symmetric pain is certainly a sign that you could be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

    1. Limping

Limping is a very common early symptom when the arthritis is affecting the hips, knees, ankles, or feet of an individual. It’s especially not unusual for a young child developing rheumatoid arthritis to have a painless limp as one of the first symptoms.

    1. Mood Changes

Because rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, fatigue, and stiffness that makes it harder to enjoy activities, the disease is often tied to depression, anxiety, and other mood changes.

To compound the matter, people who suffer from RA often develop fibromyalgia (muscle pain disease). This is another disease that is often associated with depression and anxiety.

On top of all of this, high levels of stress make all of these symptoms worse.

  1. Nodules

Rheumatoid nodules are small bumps under the skin that form close to the joints of people who suffer from RA. These bumps can be as small as a pea or as large as a walnut.

Many nodules feel very firm under the skin, although some can feel softer and doughy. They most often show up in the hands, fingers, knuckles, and elbows.

However, there are other places that rheumatoid nodules have been found to grow:

  • Vocal cords
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Heel
  • Achilles tendon
  • Hips
  • Tailbone


All of these symptoms could be a signal of rheumatoid arthritis. If you are experiencing any of them, it’s important to see a physician right away to get a diagnosis and treatment options. 

And whether your pain is chronic or acute, Capsiva is the go-to pain relief gel to reduce inflammation and draw more blood flow to painful joints.

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