In the early stages, of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) you may not initially see redness or feel any swelling in your joints, but you may experience tenderness and pain.
The following joint symptoms are potential signs of your RA:
- Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness that persists for six weeks or longer
- Morning stiffness that usually lasts for 30 minutes or longer
- More than one joint is affected
- Small joints (such as your wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet) are generally affected
- The same joints on both sides of your body are affected
Along with pain, you may experience fatigue (tiredness), loss of appetite and a low-grade fever.
RA is a chronic condition and the symptoms and effects of RA may come and go over time. A period of high disease activity (increases in inflammation and other symptoms) is called a flare. A flare can last for days or months.
Ongoing high levels of inflammation can cause problems throughout your body. Here are some ways RA can affect organs and body systems:
- Eyes: dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
- Mouth: dryness and gum irritation or infection
- Skin: rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over bony areas
- Lungs: inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath
- Blood vessels: inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs
- Blood: anaemia, a lower than normal number of red blood cells