Rheumatoid Arthritis Early Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis early symptoms may primarily include joint pain. In fact joint pain is the early symptom of various diseases. It is a characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis that symptoms often show slowly over a period of time, sometimes weeks and sometimes even months. Fatigue and stiffness too are the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. So also are weight loss and low-grade fever.

Symptoms regarding joints, in rheumatoid arthritis, usually include swollen, painful, tender and stiff joints. Usually, same joints on both sides of the body, i.e. symmetrical, are affected, particularly in hands, elbows, wrists, feet, knees, ankles and neck.

Another symptom regarding joints is morning stiffness. After a long period of sleep or sitting, joints become stiff, at least for an hour and may remain stiff for several hours.

Yet another symptom related to joints is bumps or nodules. These bumps or nodules may vary in size. They may be the size of a pea or of a mothball. Almost one-third patients with rheumatoid arthritis develop these nodules, generally over pressure points of the body, like, knuckles, elbows, lower leg bones and spine.

It is almost a rule that in rheumatoid arthritis both sides of the body are affected at the same time. It affects wrists, hands, elbows, ankles, feet, knees or neck. And usually more than three sets of joints are inflamed at a time.

In addition to the symptoms occurring in joints, rheumatoid arthritis early symptoms may show in the body as a whole, which are called systemic symptoms and include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, tingling and numbness in hands and mild fever. Some of the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms may even show similarity to the symptoms of other diseases.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Early Symptoms

The onset of these early symptoms are often referred to as ‘undifferentiated arthritis’, which means that they do not present a significant evidence for a healthcare provider to believe that the patient is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Because of this doctors often face confusion about whether to treat the patient for RA aggressively or conservatively. 40% to 50% of the patients of undifferentiated arthritis show spontaneous remission of symptoms after some time, while 30% of them develop rheumatoid arthritis. Remaining ones have a chance to develop other types of rheumatic conditions. However early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis may help in reducing joint destruction and preventing disability, but the medicines used to treat the disease carry risk.

But doctors are of opinion too that ignoring the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis is to put ourselves at risk of an early death. Usually crippling condition which causes pain and swelling in the joints is considered to be unavoidable part of ageing or too minor to show to a doctor. A study with patients diagnosed with RA showed that they were not treated for more than six months and this delay was mostly due to the fact that patients don’t like to raise the issue before their GP. In fact, it is observed by the rheumatologists that working on the first signs of the disease is crucial because it can be treated successfully if identified within three months.

It is therefore very important to look at rheumatoid arthritis early symptoms seriously and get them treated, which will delay the disease progression and sometimes even stop it.