Patient Comments: Rheumatoid Arthritis Early Symptoms and Signs - Experience


Please describe the early symptoms and signs of your RA. Submit Your Comment

Comment from: MarAnn, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 21

I’ve not been officially diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). My blood test showed negative, but it did show elevated levels of inflammation. The first signs I had was about 10 years ago. It was stiffness when walking after waking in the mornings. Then it was pain, swelling, and stiffness in my feet and hands. I pretty much hurt all over now, mainly hands, feet, and ankles. My joints snap and pop constantly and I’m having painful tingling and numbness in my arms and hands. I’m experiencing bouts of fatigue now, too.

Comment from: Haoa808, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: September 06

My first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were mostly untreated because I test serial negative. I even went to the emergency room. My first symptom felt like my hands were being slammed in a car door nearly continuously or a nail being driven through the palms of my hands. When I would say level 10 pain they said it can’t be that bad, then I'd use the car door analogy and they understood.

Comment from: Dee 66, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 12

I’m 53 and just recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Symptoms started after my MMR vaccine, and my shoulders, jaw and knees are all affected. Diagnosis started because I had knee effusion that had to be drained. I’ve had to use a walker, crutches and wheelchair and now I’m using a cane but I’m still in pain. Blood work confirmed seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. I was very active prior to this, hiking, going to the gym and walking. I’ve taken up wheelchair hiking now, I just started medication for the RA.

Comment from: Rudy RA, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 25

Pain in my shoulder socket was my first symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I could not use it, very painful. Initially I was treated for bursitis, but did not get better. A few weeks later my left knee was swollen. I went back to the doctor. He did a blood test and confirmed RA.

Comment from: F. Helen, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

The 1st rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptom I had looking back was rhinitis, I had a cold which left me with rhinitis and then the joint pains started. I still struggle with rhinitis now even though the medication has helped with the joint pain.

Comment from: Sydney, 35-44 Female (Caregiver) Published: September 13

I can say my mom has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). She was suffering from joint stiffness and severe joint pains, particularly in her fingers and ankles. Then she started feeling fatigued.

Comment from: KathleenA, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 21

I had pleurisy and pericarditis for three years, then a severe attack which landed me in the hospital for eight days while they treated me for acute respiratory failure. I tested positive for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at that point. Now I am going through more extensive testing. It may be a different disorder. I have no joint pain except some osteoarthritis in my toes and knees and osteoporosis in my hips.

Comment from: rebvan52, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 20

I'm not sure if what I have is rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or something else. For several weeks the joint of my big toe has been twisted. I have flareups of pain that are very intense. It is swollen and red. I have had severe insomnia since this happened. My home nurse said it looks like gout. I saw my doctor yesterday and he has ordered an x-ray of my foot and ankle. He ordered uric acid testing to check for gout. He hasn't really addressed my insomnia to my satisfaction. The insomnia began around the same time.

Comment from: Mimi from PV, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 15

I woke up January 16th of this year and was swollen all over. Everything hurt and ached like I had the flu. I could barely turn my head my neck hurt so badly. Even the top of my head was tender. My hands were so swollen I could barely open a door. It was horrible. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew something was. I went to the doctor and was tested for the flu, which was negative. I knew I didn’t have the flu. Weeks later following many blood tests and doctor’s appointments I was diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis).

Comment from: Jojo, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 03

I was diagnosed about a year ago with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I also have degenerate disc and bone disease, osteoarthritis in my lower spine, and scoliosis in my spine as well. I woke up one day with my wrist stiff, swollen and so sore like I've never felt before. I couldn't even hold my phone in my hand, the pain was too much. It has since moved to my hands and elbow in my right arm. I had, steroid injections in my back. I now have pain in my left hip as well as my back and neck. I had my first flare up last week in both my wrists and hands the pain was unbearable, now it has moved to my shoulders.


What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis See Slideshow
Comment from: Sam, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 01

I’ve had 3 total knee replacements in 3 years as I had many problems. A year ago 2 days after my surgery an intense pain started in my left ankle, and put me back into hospital. The pain has never gone away and now I have horrific chronic pain in both ankles and feet. I am still using one of my crutches. My feet burn and some days I can hardly walk. The combination of pain from my surgery and my feet is unbearable some days. I take amitriptyline at night for my nerve damage in my knee. I am worried if this is rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Comment from: Helena, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 12

Right now I have a full flare up of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The pain in my knees, groin and hips is severe, and brings me to tears. I have what seems like spasms, involuntary jumping of joints from intense pain.

Comment from: Karen G., 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: November 12

My rheumatoid arthritis started with pain in my hands. They worried at me and I had bone crushing fatigue like I have never seen. I had some blood work drawn and tested positive for the rheumatoid factor. I also have extremely dry mouth and dry eyes. I was diagnosed 10 years ago and have been on multiple medicines for treatment. They have helped the flares some but I still have issues with pain, fatigue and some joint damage. Cold weather affects me a lot.

Comment from: RA Daughter, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 09

I've had fibromyalgia for 20 years. About six months ago, developed severe pain in my left upper arm, then in both wrists. Now it has spread to hands and my fingers are stiff. My wrists are weak and so tender. Blood tests were negative. Mother had rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I ache all over in cold, rainy weather. It is hard to get moving in the morning. I also have occasional knee and ankle pain.

Comment from: Vonshnitz7 , 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: October 16

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in my early 30s. I’m 53 and I have been experiencing my ring and middle fingers on my left hand are locking in a fist position. It takes warm water to open them.

Comment from: J1M9P86, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 16

About 8ish years ago I kept getting what we thought was pink eye. In one year I saw the eye doctor 24 times. She finally asked if anyone in my family had rheumatoid arthritis (RA), my father and younger brother both do. So she sent me in for blood work and it came back positive for RA. So I wasn’t actually getting pink eye, my RA flare ups were presenting in my eyes. It’s called iritis.

Comment from: Berrymary, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 22

I have some of the classic symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) listed here. A swollen red knuckle on my thumb, loss of range of motion in my left knee; ankle stiffness so severe in the morning that I limp to the bathroom. So far, my doctor has not thought much about it when I bring it up. I’m 58. I was diagnosed with hammer toes and have had foot problems for years, but I wonder if it’s actually RA.

Comment from: Cindy , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 21

Fatigue, stiff swollen fingers, and stiff swollen ankles and big toes were my first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Wrists and elbows are now affected and I have a small hard bump under the skin at my elbow. I hurt when I move and it takes a long time in the morning to get moving. I have positive RA factor and high CRP test. I haven’t been officially diagnosed because there are no rheumatologists around here. I’m frustrated, sad and angry that I can’t physically do what I used to.

Comment from: Marisita101673, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 10

I'm having quite a few of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, and just recently had bloodwork where my CRP was quite high, but the rheumatoid factor came back negative. I wonder if I could still have RA even if that particular test came back negative. I have quite a bit of joint pain, inflammation, fatigue like I have never felt before, pain in my fingers especially, things like that.

Comment from: Deborah, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 11

I have chronic pain in joints and muscles, sometimes spasms that hurt terribly and get stuck until they ease up enough for me to be able to move. I have swelling, some days are worse than others. I was informed that I do have rheumatoid arthritis, possibly fibromyalgia. I am waiting for test results, one thing I know I'm in pain, I also have shingles.


The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. See Answer
Comment from: Marlou, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: July 11

I haven't seen anyone comment on symptoms like mine for rheumatoid arthritis. It started about 2 months ago with achiness in both upper arms. Not real hard pain. I saw my doctor for something else and mentioned it. She said it is a pinched nerve cause by arthritis. I will see her again soon for a complete physical. Meanwhile, I've taken Aleve but I'm not sure that is the best medicine for it but it does help some. I should probably be taking ibuprofen.

Comment from: Kayz, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 12

Tingling in my hands is my symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Comment from: Tammy, 45-54 Female (Caregiver) Published: July 20

I'm not sure if I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but I have tingling and a tiny bit of numbness in my left middle finger. Sometimes I get a feeling like pin and needle sensation, like electric shock in my forearm I go to the doctor on Thursday but my knuckles are always sore and my thumb knuckles are worse when I bend them.

Comment from: Froman03, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: July 17

I had a car accident 8 months ago, hurt my back moving cement and doctors put me on steroids and pain medication. I have since in the past many weeks stopped the steroids and cut the pain medication back. I now have severe stiffness in all of my joints, I think caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I have been suffering with shortness of breath under normal conversational instances. Slightly sharp chest pains, inability to walk much due to my feet hurting. My back and neck hurt. I have difficulties clenching my fists and my hands and feet fall asleep rapidly. My vision has taken a turn for the worse very quickly over the past 1.5 years to 2 years.

Comment from: melk, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 10

I was told 2 months ago through blood tests I have rheumatoid arthritis (along with osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia). Then a second test done a month later said I don’t have it. But I have all the symptoms. I am very confused and I am waiting to see an RA doctor. The pain is horrible.

Comment from: Mike 10, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 26

It may not be rheumatoid arthritis. I have had muscle and joint pain traveling around my body for 2 to 3 weeks. It can be a shoulder and knee, or a shoulder, or both shoulders, or bicep pain. I've never had hip pain before, 3 days ago it was my right hip and today my left hip is causing me to use a cane. My left shoulder is having pain. I can feel it moving to my right shoulder while I'm doing this.

Comment from: Pinkpassion , 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 08

I have severe pain in my right middle finger. I cannot make a fist, and gripping is difficult and painful. I think it is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis.

Comment from: Jamie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 01

My rheumatoid arthritis (RA) started as joint stiffness, my fingers stick, wrist pain is very intense; feels like someone is pulling my ligaments apart. Touching or tapping my wrists sends me into tears. I've lost grip and can't lift anything without pain. I'm extremely tired and sleep a lot. I never have been this way, it all started a year ago. I have been begging for help from doctors. I took the RA test and it was negative. I'm seeing a neurologist now and had an MRI Thursday. I live in pain, there are days I don't want to go on living like this. I'm 39 years old and no one believes me that something is very wrong. I've always been a tomboy and very active. I've done every test I can do, I'm scared and giving up. My arm aches sometimes at the elbow, I get this rash on my right side of my neck to the ear that is itchy and dry. They put me on steroids allot but they don't last as long anymore. I feel half normal when I get the shots then two days later it's creeping back 10 times worse! My back is starting to hurt and it takes me a while to get up once I wake up or sit. I feel stiff and sore. What is happening to me!

Comment from: KT, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

I experience on and off pain at the top of my feet which makes walking painful. Usually the pain lasts for a few minutes but can occur at any time, not necessarily after resting, etc. Occasionally I may experience a tingling sensation not unlike pins and needles but this may occur simultaneously with the pain. I am concerned these are early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Comment from: Barbie Parr, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 16

I have swollen knees and now sometimes my legs feel broken when I walk. I been to lots of doctors and now I'm going to see a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) doctor. Hope he or she can help me.

Comment from: Nisie, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I suffer from swollen feet every day, heavy tired legs that suffer from varicose veins, as well as the back part of my legs are swollen every day. I have been to the doctor and hospital and they have said I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but I haven’t been treated for it.

Comment from: MARGE, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: October 22

My symptoms are inability to move without pain all over my body. It started 3 nights ago and has gotten progressively worse. I am concerned it may be rheumatoid arthritis.