Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition, which means the body’s immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and inflammation.
But there are early signs of rheumatoid arthritis you should watch out for so that the disease can be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Most people with RA experience symptoms in small joints first, such as those in the hands, feet, or wrists.
Although, the symptoms of this chronic condition vary from person to person.
In this post, we highlight the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis that you need to be aware of.
Let’s jump right in
The early signs of rheumatoid arthritis
1. Fatigue or tiredness
Before experiencing other symptoms of arthritis, you may experience fatigue or tiredness.
This is due to the fact that your body is using all of its energy to fight the inflammation.
The tricky part is that most people mistake this tiredness and a lack of energy for other conditions, such as depression or the flu.
However, if you have been feeling really exhausted lately, it may be an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
So if you notice extreme tiredness along with any of these symptoms below, make sure to see a doctor.
2. Morning stiffness
Another early sign of rheumatoid arthritis is morning stiffness.
This means you wake up in the mornings with stiff joints, making it difficult to move them like normal.
The stiffness usually lasts more than an hour after waking up, say Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center.
If you wake up to this kind of morning pain, it could be the first sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
3. Joint pain and stiffness
In addition to morning stiffness, you may also notice joint pain and stiffness in some of your joints.
Joints are areas where two bones meet together so they can move more freely when working properly.
But if there is inflammation around the area, it causes these joints to stiffen up and be painful for movement.
So this means if you notice any of these symptoms, it may be an early sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
However, bear in mind that there are many other conditions and diseases that can cause joint pain and stiffness as well.
For instance, osteoarthritis is another condition that affects the joints and causes similar symptoms to those above.
4. Painful or swollen joints with redness and warmth
Another symptom of early signs of rheumatoid arthritis is painful or swollen joints.
This means the affected areas will be red, warm to touch, and become increasingly swollen.
In some people, rheumatoid nodules may also appear on their skin, says the U.K. National Health Service.
These nodules are small lumps that appear under the skin around affected joints.
So if you notice any of these symptoms, it could be early signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Low-grade fever
A low-grade fever is another common early sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
This means you may feel slightly warmer than usual with a temperature between 99°F to 100.37°F (or 37°C to 38°C).
Sometimes, this slight increase in body temperature can be so mild that it goes unnoticed for some time.
It’s usually caused b they inflammation around the joints, which can also cause pain and swelling.
So if you have been noticing these symptoms lately, get help from a doctor to rule out other conditions that may be causing your fever.
6. Unexplained weight loss
Early rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can also include unexplained weight loss.
This is because the body needs to use its energy to fight inflammation, which reduces the amount of calories you are able to intake each day.
In addition, when someone is feeling very fatigued or has pain, they may not feel like eating.
This means weight loss due to lack of appetite.
So if you notice any changes in your appetite or sudden weight loss without trying, talk with a doctor about it right away.
7. Numbness or tingling in the hands
Another early sign of rheumatoid arthritis is numbness or tingling in the hands or feet.
This means you may feel your fingers and toes go numb, or they may tingle as well.
When your joint is inflamed, it can put pressure on the nerves around it.
As a result, the numbness and tingling in your fingers and toes can be caused by inflammation around the joints.
However, there are other conditions that could cause similar symptoms as well.
Read on: 8 Early Signs of Hand Arthritis and Treatment
So if you have been experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
This way, you can get an early diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible to help with the symptoms.
If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis could cause long-term damage to your joints and other organs in your body.
So don’t put off seeing a doctor if you notice any of these signs or symptoms!
Keep on reading: 5 Spices That Can Help Reduce Arthritis Pain