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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:

  • Fatigue.
  • A loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Mild fever.

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

More information

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 08, 2013
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.
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