Skip to content
Font Size

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Symptoms

Joint pain can be an early symptom of many different diseases. In rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms often develop slowly over a period of weeks or months. Fatigue and stiffness are usually early symptoms. Weight loss and a low-grade fever can also occur.

Joint symptoms include:

  • Painful, swollen, tender, stiff joints. The same joints on both sides of the body (symmetrical) are usually affected, especially the hands camera.gif, wrists, elbows, feet camera.gif, ankles, knees, or neck.
  • Morning stiffness. Joint stiffness may develop after long periods of sleeping or sitting. It lasts at least 60 minutes and often up to several hours.
  • Bumps (nodules). Rheumatoid nodules ranging in size from a pea to a mothball develop in nearly one-third of people who have rheumatoid arthritis. Nodules usually form over pressure points camera.gif in the body such as the elbows, knuckles, spine, and lower leg bones.

In addition to specific joint symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis can cause symptoms throughout the body (systemic). These include:

Some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may be similar to symptoms of other health conditions.

More information

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 29, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    rubbing hands
    Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
    mature couple exercising
    Decrease pain, increase energy.
     
    mature woman threading needle
    How much do you know?
    hands
    Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
     
    Lucille Ball
    Slideshow
    Hand bones X-ray
    Article
     
    prescription pills
    Article
    Woman massaging her neck
    Quiz
     
    woman roasting vegetables in oven
    Slideshow
    Woman rubbing shoulder
    Slideshow
     
    Working out with light weights
    Video
    arthritis
    Article