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Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease is when your body's immune system attacks and destroys your body's own tissues. In the case of Rheumatoid arthritis the immune system is attacking the joints, organs and other parts of the body.  The joints become swollen, stiff, and painful. In later stages, the joints can become deformed. Other areas of your body can also be affected, including your lungs, heart, blood vessels, and eyes. About 1 percent of the U.S. population suffers from RA. Typically, it strikes between the ages of 30 and 60, but it can occur at any age.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stiffness, swelling, and pain in and around certain joints, especially after not moving for a while (for example, when waking) Affected joints typically include hands, fingers, wrists, ankles, feet, elbows, and knees. Generally, if a joint on the right side of your body is affected, the same joint on the left side is also affected. Feeling tired and run-down with swollen lymph glands, a low fever, little or no appetite, and weight loss Appearance of small bumps under the skin near the affected joints

Here are the major Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

  • Joint pain, there is usually pain in several joints.
  • Stiffness in the joints. You will usually see a reduction in the range of motion of effected joints.
  • Inflammation is common around effected joints. Signs of inflammation are redness, tenderness, and warmth.
  • Swelling of effected joints and surrounding areas.
  • Small bumps called nodules may appear around effected joints.

Here are some early symptoms that may show up before joint pain begins.

  • Fatigue
  • Morning stiffness (lasting more than 1 hour)
  • Widespread muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness

Here are some of the other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms that may show up as the disease progresses.

  • Anemia due to failure of the bone marrow to produce enough new red cells
  • Eye burning, itching, and discharge
  • Hand and feet deformities
  • Limited range of motion
  • Low-grade fever
  • Lung inflammation (pleurisy)
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Paleness
  • Round, painless nodules under the skin (usually a sign of more severe disease)
  • Skin redness or inflammation
  • Swollen glands





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Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis. is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

Where we get our information.

Most of the information in the site is compiled by editors from information provided by the National Institutes of Health. We are in the process of updating our pages. In the past we have not made reference to the source for information provide by our editors. In the next few weeks we hope to have all our pages marked as to the source.

We have included information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Pages that uses information from this source are so acknowledged.

We have contributing authors that send information. Where information is provided by an outside author it is acknowledged by a byline under the title.

Updates of Pages.

Not all of our pages have a date as to the last update. We are in the processes of reviewing all our pages and as we do we include a reference as to when the page was updated. This web site was first published in January of 2003. All pages in the site were created at sometime during or after that time.