Signs and Symptoms of RA
The first thing that I noticed was I felt like I had twisted my knee. And I had gone out walking with a neighbor friend pushing the strollers, me and daughter and her and her daughter, and I thought, "I don't remember twisting my knee, but I definitely twisted my knee." It feels like I twisted my knee, and it got progressively worse over a couple of days. Right as I was about to call a doctor, it went away. The next week it came back. OK, now I know I did not twist my knee, but it felt like I had twisted my knee. And I also knew it would go away. So I waited and it went away. The next time it happened about a week later, it was my shoulder, and it was the same feeling, and I thought, "I definitely did not twist my shoulder." And I didn't know what to do. It happened on a Friday, and if you ever had your shoulder go out or something I hadn't, you can't do anything without your shoulder. I sat down on the couch on that Friday and I pretty much did not get up until Sunday when it started to feel better. I just sat there because I didn't know what to do, and I couldn't -, I was so limited, and that had never happened. I never experienced that.
Monday... I talked to my mom over the weekend. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis and her reaction was sort of, "Uh-oh, that pain sounds familiar." So Monday I called the doctor and I went in and he agreed I should see a rheumatologist. He took some blood work, and that sort of started the process.
I worked with my rheumatologist over the next nine months. The symptoms got progressively worse. For me, they sort of bounced around different places in my body. They weren't just in my hands and feet, and my rheumatologist said that's pretty common, and it will eventually probably settle more in hands and feet, but I've always still had problems in some other joints. We got to the point where he said, "Yup, it's official. We've done enough, we've watched it enough, we know this is definitely what it is. We've ruled out everything else, and it's rheumatoid arthritis.
Joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It often goes along with warmth, redness, tenderness and swelling in the joints. These symptoms will usually occur symmetrically — on both sides of the body. Another common symptom is stiffness, especially in the morning. All of these symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the disease. These symptoms mean that the joints are being attacked, and if left untreated, this can lead to deformity. That's why it's important to get a diagnosis as early as possible.
Beyond the joints
People with RA may have other symptoms that go beyond the joints. When the immune system attacks the body, as it does in people with RA, symptoms can be felt throughout the entire body. These symptoms show that RA affects more than just the joints. Many people with RA may experience:
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Decreased quality of life
- Difficulty performing daily activities
- Occasional low-grade fever
People with RA might also have trouble performing activities they used to do like climbing stairs or carrying groceries. They may feel less able to participate socially, or feel that they have less energy and can feel sad or down.
If you think you may be experiencing RA symptoms, make an appointment to see your family doctor or a rheumatologist, a specialist who deals with joint diseases. During your appointment, be sure to tell him or her about all of your symptoms, even if some of them only happen once in a while, or seem unrelated.
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Glossary Of Terms
Occurs when the immune system defends the body against harmful events. More...
A doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the joints. More...
A long-term condition where the body's immune system attacks not only foreign substances like bacteria and viruses, but also attacks the body itself. More...