Characteristically, Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic polyarthritis. In two-thirds of patients, it begins insidiously with fatigue, anorexia, generalized weakness and vague musculoskeletal symptoms.
The course of Rheumatoid Arthritis is usually intermittent with alternate phases of flare-ups (when disease activity increases) and remission (when disease remains silent).
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis are most commonly seen in small joints of fingers, thumbs, wrists, feet, and ankles.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis include:
- Symmetric arthritis (both-sided joints equally affected) usually beginning in joints of fingers and thumbs.
- Approximately one-third of patients manifest with symptoms in a single joint.
- Affected joints become painful, red and warm to touch. Stiffness of joints usually occurs in morning after waking up.
- Low grade fever occurs because of inflammation along with other symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Weight loss is seen in many cases
- Joint deformities of fingers, wrist and toes occur in advanced cases
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis cause a tremendous drain on the quality of life. They affect the person at all levels - emotional, physical and intellectual- making it difficult to carry out daily activities of life.
- Rheumatoid nodules: They are small firm, painless bumps of tissue under the skin of arms, elbows, knees and on pressure points of feet.
- Neurological manifestations: Tingling or numbness in feet and hands due to affection of nerves
- Heart affection: People with Rheumatoid Arthritis are more prone to heart diseases like heart attacks and atherosclerosis.
- Lung involvement: Lung fibrosis and nodules can also add to the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Rheumatoid vasculitis: Small brown spots along nail beds can occur as a result of blood vessel involvement.
- Skeletal manifestation: Osteoporosis leading to weak and fragile bones make them susceptible to fractures.