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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Question:

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: gsarita, 0-2 Female (Caregiver) Published: October 30

My Mom has rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and she has been complaining about all joints pain and feeling very weak at this time.

Comment from: Maxwell Paul, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: October 16

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in July 2010, it started in two fingers on my right hand and one finger in my left hand. The right side of my body was constantly aching and fatigue was so severe. I was put on naproxen.

Comment from: Sue dever , 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 02

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 25 years ago. I have stiffness, swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome, and intense pain. I was put on methotrexate and folic acid, I still suffer from stiffness and pain, but now they are saying I haven't got it. I have osteoarthritis too. I don't understand this as I got new doctors and I was under a rheumatologist for all those years, how can you his be totally confused!

Comment from: Raj, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: June 13

I don't know really when rheumatoid arthritis (RA) got activated in me. But as I remember at the age of 10 may be. It has still been giving me pains, but not continuously. I will be fine for some years, but suddenly early in the morning I have a little pain, later slowly, day to day the pain increases. It takes off my happiness. I do exercise every day, but once pain starts and stiffness in joints, I can't. As I heard there is no treatment for this, but with willpower I will kill the pain. Since 6months I got rheumatic arm pain, don't know, how to make my arm movements. It has been so many years I feel, since I made my arm movements in all directions. It pains a lot, where I haven't seen this pain in my 20 years of RA. My suggestion would be, fight against it with exercise and food control.

Comment from: Julie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 03

I was diagnosed 4 weeks ago with RA. I haven't seen a specialist yet. I'm 55, white, female. I had RA symptoms for a while, but I didn't know anything about the disease. In June of this year, I experienced chest pains on my right side and was hospitalized for 3 days. All testing came back negative for heart issues. I was diagnosed with pleurisy and told to exercise more. I was so tired and seemed anxious about everything, afraid I would forget things. My feet kept getting more and more painful, but I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis in 2006, and just thought it was affecting my feet. I have a high tolerance for pain and tend to shrug things off. I'm also not a "pill taker." I got to the point I could barely walk and noticed swelling in my feet too. Then I woke up one morning with my right thumb nearly doubled the other in size and felt like it was broken. Then the next day my right shoulder felt like it was dislocated. And finally the following day, I couldn't lift my right leg. So I went to a local doctor and he did the blood work and said I need to see a RA Specialist, that I have RA. I've been depressed about it and don't know anyone in my ancestry that had it. I never even knew it was an autoimmune disease. I'm having problems getting to a specialist for months, because they are booked up.

Comment from: Ann-lee, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 02

I was doing great until one morning I woke up with painful joints all over, I couldn't even move an inch. My mum called our family doctor for check-up and I was taken to the hospital. Later I found out that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Comment from: HipHopJournalistLuvr, 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: September 22

My boyfriend was born with RA. It has affected his hips (he had full replacements about 5 years ago), his feet, knees, hands, neck, wrist and fingers. I can't imagine the pain one feels. I just want to know how I can help make him more comfortable. A week ago he could barely walk. The good thing is that he doesn't let the RA beat him. He is a fighter and strives to keep going even when his body really can't. Will it be smart to do massage therapy? I have been thinking about going to school to get licensed specifically to help him with the RA. I keep you all in my prayers. May God heal such pain and a cure be discovered.

Comment from: Heather, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 06

My symptoms were very sudden - have always been very healthy, then woke one day with incredibly painful shoulder (about 3.5 months ago) that lasted about 2 days. Thought I had overexerted myself gardening! Then a week later I woke with really painful, swollen knee which lasted a couple of days! A week after that it was my wrist. Then the following week each day was a different joint moving from hands, wrists to jaw! Went to the doctor who immediately did a blood test. Came back positive for anti DsDNA (specific for lupus) but negative on RF. Referred me to a rheumatologist who said my symptoms sounded more like RA and tested me for anti CCP - that came back positive! So I have an overlap of the 2 diseases! First couple of weeks, on anti-inflammatory and hydroxychloroquine there wasn't much relief but after anti-CCP came back positive methotrexate was added. Now on 17.5mg a week and have to say that last week I was even wondering if they were wrong as it all seemed too easy! However today I do have painful feet just to remind me they weren't wrong! It does seem to have been easy as doctors have all been great and I've been lucky all meds have agreed with me and methotrexate reduced symptoms quickly!

Comment from: Sorda Goormay, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: August 11

I am currently 64 years old and was diagnosed with RA 3 weeks ago. I have been telling doctors the symptoms of RA for 10 my ears but was consistently told that I had gout [in spite of the fact that there was no elevation of ureic acid in my blood]. I've since discovered that RA is often misdiagnosed as gout. 2 years ago, I had a huge flare. Both feet swelled to the extent that I couldn't walk on them. My hands were so swollen that I couldn't hold a knife or fork. The pain was something far beyond anything I had ever experienced. The doctor gave me a pain pill. Luckily, a nurse friend told me that prednisone was the protocol approach to my problem. The drug chased the symptoms in about five days but the situation changed. Every morning I awoke with pain in two joints that were different than the joints that were in pain the day before. It was at this point that I saw my first rheumatologist. He told me, confidently, that I had a massive gout attack [in spite of all the testing to the contrary], The next specialist said that I didn't have gout but he didn't know what it was. Now that I have researched the symptoms of RA, I realize that I have been telling doctors the textbook symptoms for many years. I am currently taking folic acid and methatrexate. I couldn't handle the prescribed anti-inflammatory so I quit it on my own. I am applying for medical marijuana for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Comment from: Pal, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 03

II am 53 years old and I have experienced osteoarthritis of the right hip since I was 4 years old. At 37 I had my first total hip replacement. A few months after the surgery a screw came out and banged a hole through my pelvis. By the time I found a doctor who believed that I was experiencing excruciating pain, I had permanently damaged my back and sciatic nerves. I had a successful total hip revision but continue to suffer from sciatic and arthritic pain. 2 years ago I began experiencing pain, swelling and heat in my left foot that was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. 8 months ago I began to experience chronic fatigue. The fatigue was accompanied by swelling at my lower back and joint pain in joints where I had not experienced pain before (elbows, fingers, knees, etc.). I felt as though I had the flu all the time with my joints literally radiating heat. I was no longer able to walk my dogs, swim or do Pilates. At first I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia so I found an acupuncturist who continues to help me with my energy level and pain. 6 weeks ago I was diagnosed with RA. I am currently taking 8 mg of methaltrexate once weekly, extra strength ibuprophen (when I can't stand the pain) and elavil before bed to help me stay asleep. The degree of pain varies from day to day. I am now able to do some Pilates again and I am aquasising twice a week. I remain working full time in hopes of retiring in 6.5 years.

Published: August 27

I was an active, healthy male. I was diagnosed with RA at age 44 (9 months after a minor motorcycle accident that injured my left wrist). My symptoms began with a general feeling of fatigue and malaise. Then a few months later, morning numbness in the fronts of both feet that lasted for a few hours. I saw a podiatrist and was mis-diagnosed with "Morton's Neuroma". As my symptoms progressed, I had sharp shoulder, wrist and elbow pains during the night. Then, a gradual stiffening of my right, pinky finger; followed by stiff, sore and swollen fore and index fingers predominately on my right hand, but also on the left. I was diagnosed with RA and Hypo-thyroid initially. After taking "Thyroxin" for about 4 weeks, I began taking "Hydroxychloroquine" and "Naproxen". My thyroid corrected and I stopped taking Thyroxin. My RA symptoms persisted with primarily sore, stiff hands in the mornings (3-4 hrs), sore ankles, a swollen elbow and muscle fatigue. After about 4 months, we added "Methotrexate" for 3 months with some success (no more swollen elbow or sharp shoulder pains and less sore hands), however, my liver enzyme count became elevated too high. I've now (5 months) been taking "Sulfasalazine" (3 grams/day) with "Hydroxychloroquine" (400 mg/day) and am having much less swelling in my hands and ankles now. Some days are better than others. I have much less energy than I used to. I stopped working (6 months after my diagnosis) because the medicine didn't eliminate the pain, fatigue and swelling; and I could no longer move heavy objects without possibly causing permanent damage to my joints. I was approved for Social Security Disability benefits immediately (after initial 6 month waiting period). I'm hopeful that my symptoms will go away one day or at least be controlled with medication.

Published: August 27

I had been sick from Bronchitis. I complained about feeling "stiff" in my shoulders. They told me it was from coughing. I started having problems walking, my hips hurt. I thought it was because I stopped going to the gym due to the bronchitis. Within a week, I couldn't lift my shoulders off the bed in the morning then to not being able to even pull the blankets up to cover up because my hands hurt so bad. Within two weeks my hands, wrists, hips and feet were in so much pain. Currently I am being managed with Plaquenil and Methotrexate and Prednisone. I have full mobility but tinges of pain every now and then.

Comment from: Karmel, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 26

I have inherited rheumatoid arthritis. I started showing signs when I was 26 years old. Prednisolone is the only thing working for me at moment as well as a supplement SAMe methionine (a bit) but still my Rh factor is still 1065 and my CRP is 68.

Comment from: Em, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 14

I have been on Methotrexate since I was diagnosed 13 years ago. I also take folic acid and do water aerobics three times a week. I find keeping active helps with joint stiffness and pain. My husband and I hiked and go for long walks. Eating healthy and keeping active has helped me.

Comment from: Thelaw154, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: May 06

I was told I had RA 6 weeks ago but have had symptoms for four months. I thought I may have jammed or sprained my forefinger due to pain and swelling. I babied it for a week and then the same thing happened on my other hand. I knew then that something was obviously wrong. Every finger in both hands are now affected and both feet. I recently lost 45 pounds because I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. Ha, the joke was on me. I had more energy, then the RA hit me like a ton of bricks. I am scared to take the meds that are out there. In am taking a less aggressive med called Plaquenil. I am wondering if I should change my mind.

Comment from: remicade fan, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 22

I was diagnosed in May 2011 on my 45th birthday. I have always been very active, workout 5 times a week, I even played indoor soccer. I started having problems with my right knee, it was swelling and hard to bend. Then I noticed when I got up in the mornings my hands were stiff, I had a hard time bending my fingers. Since I've been having remicade infusions along with methotrexate I'm feeling great. I have no issues whatsoever. I'm back to working out and I feel back to my old self.

Comment from: samej5, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 10

I've read all of the posts. I'm almost 41 and I've never had any required medications or problems. BAM! Just as many of you stated: my wrist hurt for two days, shoulders were in such pain; even my hip, leg, and jaw! The pain seemed to jump around. It seemed to hit quick in my case. Maybe I just shrugged off pain prior to that. My blood work came back with a positive diagnosis for RA. Please continue to post your thoughts and experiences. I'm very active and I'm trying to stay upbeat about what's in store for me. Good luck to you all.

Comment from: Dr. C, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 27

I am a 41-year old internist, diagnosed with RA 3 weeks ago. I thought my initial symptoms came when I woke up one day with bilateral swelling in hands and arms which were very stiff and a right shoulder that was very painful. These progressed over weeks to include pain in my nape area. I was put on methotrexate and prednisone, which actually improved my condition. But the symptoms came back when my prednisone was tapered off. I guess that was done too early.

Comment from: Leticia, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 24

My RA was difficult for doctors to diagnose. My initial symptoms were tingling in my hands, and frequent bruising, and by the time it was diagnosed I was having a hard time walking. I'm 20 years old.

Comment from: G. Dallas, 0-2 Male (Patient) Published: August 03

Rheumatoid arthritis is a severe, multi-system, and inflammation related autoimmune condition that could trigger an attack to the joints. It is an extremely severe and hurtful condition that can cause loss of mobility due to the pain and joint damage.

Comment from: marybernie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 11

Started with pain in left shoulder which they told me was a "frozen shoulder". Pains then started in right wrist and I started feeling very tired and generally ill. In July my right knee flared up and my doctor told me to lose weight and just gave me pain killers. After 6 weeks of excruciating pain I found my own consultant. In September I was put on 25mg a week of methotrexate which has now pushed the RA back into remission. However the side effects of this drug are horrible but I guess the benefits of the drug outweigh the side effects. I'm now back working again full time although I do get extremely tired.

Comment from: Cristinaa , (;, Female (Patient) Published: January 19

At the onset of my RA, I had swelling in my joints and pain in my hands.

Comment from: Mississippi Lady, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 03

I am 46 year old female, diagnosed with RA a week ago. I've been having these pains in my feet for over a year or so, but I went to foot doctor and he told me it was plantar fasciitis. Later I started having pains one wrist and then the pain jumped to the other and then it went down to my small finger. I was thinking maybe it was carpal tunnel, but now I see all these pains were coming from RA. I usually go to the gym and work out but sometimes the pains had gotten so severe I had to slow up.

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 18

I was diagnosed with RA when I was 24 years old, and will be celebrating my 61st soon. I was very ill when diagnosed. I suffered weight loss, fatigue, achy joints and muscles. I also had just had my second child and never stopped post-natal bleeding for about 4 months. I was anemic and could hardly motivate myself to do anything. Over the years I have had three major flares that have really put me out of commission, but always went into remission. My last major flare was alarming - vomiting, malaise, low-grade fevers, heart racing. My doctor put me on methotrexate, the maximum dose per week; folic acid and Enbrel. Enbrel has changed my life! I hate giving myself the injections, but my quality of life has improved significantly. I can see my knuckles for the first time in many years! I do worry a little about the side effects, but so far my only problem has been slight anemia. I will continue with the methotrexate and Enbrel as long as it keeps working for me.

Comment from: captain cooper, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 04

My earliest symptoms were profound fatigue after any exertion, muscle weakness, intermittent low grade fever, loss of strength in my arms and hands, and general malaise.

Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 25

I turned 40 this year and I was just diagnosed (blood test) with RA. I have been complaining for about two years of extreme fatigue and pain that worsened when I tried to lay down to sleep, and occasional fever. I just found out today that I Have RA. Need to see a Rheumatologist ASAP and am in the process of being referred to a specialist. I am also a full-time student pursuing my RN degree (Registered Nurse). Hopefully I was diagnosed in time so as to effectively manage the symptoms. Hopefully, I will be able to do what I have always wanted to do - be a nurse.

Comment from: oldie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 26

My fingers are getting very crooked and swollen and stiff. I am very tired and people always ask why I sound like I am out of breath. Also, my neck has been hurting for about three months.

Comment from: Babs, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 01

At 40 years old, I woke up one morning and could not move my hands. The pain was intense. The urgent care physician immediately knew it was RA. That was 11 years ago. However, for about 7- 10 years prior, I would have bouts of bilateral wrist pain which needed splinting, and pain on the foot between the large and second toe. My main complaint then and now is exhaustion, fatigue and mental fog. That has not improved despite successful management of the joint pain/stiffness. I continue to work fulltime and have no deformities of the joints, but was treated aggressively from the onset. Good luck to those recently diagnosed. It takes trial and error to find the right medication or combination of medications, but once found they work very well. I hope this information helps someone.

Comment from: Kruizer, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 08

I'm a 42 year old male and I was diagnosed 6 months ago with rheumatoid arthritis. I take 6 pills a day. I also take folic acid daily, ibuprofen and prednisone as needed. My swelling has stopped, but I'm often fatigued, have little to no appetite, and have a feeling of malaise (just generally don't feel well). Also I find I don't take stress very well (makes me tired and depressed). My major onset symptoms were dramatic joint swelling and tenderness (inability to open doors, zip my pants, etc). I'm somewhat typical in the fact that my pain is usually not bilateral, I only have one joint at a time affected. The disease seems to live in my hips, and sometimes affects my smaller joints (toes, fingers, wrists and such).

Comment from: shanki, 45-54 Female Published: February 08

I tested positive for the RA factor 12 years ago. I am now 46, and am not sure if I was diagnosed properly. I do have stiffness in my hips, wrists, ankles and fingers and toes, but I have no swelling, redness, or any other outward signs. I don't know whether to mention the increase in symptoms. I feel I may be wasting the doctor's time.

Comment from: 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 27

I was diagnosed with RA three weeks ago. I'm 24. All the women on my mother side have it. I always had a small amount of arthritis just from "killing" myself playing several sports as a kid and young adult. However when I got the flu in October, I never got better. I had continual aches. I had a hard time grasping objects, my hands are the worst. I finally went to the doctor where he ran test after test, just trying NOT to diagnose RA. However, that wasn't the case. We are trying everything that doesn't include medication, because I'm so young. Hopefully we can come up with something, if not medication it is. But every day is a different challenge. It will never get better, but its "nice" to have days that I can move and be a normal person.

Comment from: NJpatient, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 12

I was diagnosed with RA in 4 months ago. Over a year before the diagnosis I was experiencing pain in my knees, wrists, and elbows. I stopped all exercising that impacted those joints and ALL the pain disappeared completely. I really went to the doctor because I could not exercise in any sport and started having mild swelling in my hands and elbows. My RA doctor prescribed a generic medication. The first two months I was on it, the RA was in remission (but I didn't realize it) and I had no symptoms at all. These last 2 months the disease kicked in full blown - happened overnight. One day, I was perfectly fine. The next day, I was in terrible pain.

Comment from: TexasLady, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 06

I was diagnosed with RA when I turned 40...Happy Birthday to Me...This took me by surprise – I was well one day and then next day I could hardly get out of bed. I was hurting so bad, my hands and my feet were so swollen and I could hardly take a step without pain. I continued that way for about a week then went to see my primary physician and he referred me over to a RA doctor. And sure enough It was confirmed, I had RA....it was a devastating blow to me. I sat there in the doctor's office and cried my eyes out and luckily my doctor took time and explained everything to me and immediately put me on methotrexate and prednisone. Luckily my RA was barely starting, and yeah there are days that are very bad, especially for a person who is used to doing everything and anything....and then there are the good days, I really enjoy those days. I had never heard of RA before I was diagnosed with it and now I read up on it as much as I can.

Comment from: NancyVi, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 28

I was diagnosed with RA one month ago and have been on prednisone and hydroxychloroquine for three weeks. I am in constant pain and the pain sites move from day to day. I am 62 and feel 92. The doctor says it may take months to feel relief but I am getting worse by the day. See him in two weeks and hope for some better meds… Oh and I live on pain pills, ugh.

Comment from: Alex, Published: October 07

One must not overlook the effectiveness and safe use of natural therapies in management of Arthritis and RA. Biotechnology, resonance homeopathy and Ayurvedic Herbs offer comprehensive relief from the complaints. They strengthen muscles, ligaments and cartilages, reduce pain and inflammation, and create better flexibility.

Comment from: Barbara, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

i was diagnosed with RA almost 1yr ago. I am a 53 year old female. I am on methotrexate - 6 pills once a week and prednisone 10ml once daily. I am finally feeling the difference, I am not stiff when I get out of bed and I can walk without being so stiff with pain. Still have some bad days where I will hurt all over if I do too much, and it doesn't take much! I take a lot of Ibuprofen (probably too much), but they work. My RA factor was 25 about 6mo.ago and now it is 17.

Comment from: Lily, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

I get swollen, painful hands the day following increased activity. Usually my right hand was worse than my left. Some days my puffy right hand looked as if I was wearing an inflated glove. Now this makes sense due to my right hand dominance.

Comment from: Holly, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: April 05

I was diagnosed when I was 22. It started with a pain in my left foot. I am a server and thought I needed new shoes, but the pain would not go away. I waited a year before I finally went to have it looked at. They did an x-rays and found erosion of the bone in two of my toes. I was sent to my doctor to start testing. I had no other symptoms (other than fatigue) until the winter of that year when I fell and hurt my wrist. The pain in my wrist did not go away and seemed to spread though out my other joints. Both feet, ankles, toes, wrists and knees were all in severe pain until I could no longer walk and I was finally diagnosed with RA.

Comment from: Georgie, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 29

My symptoms came on gradually over time (possible a year or two) numbness in my hands and feet. Pain in my hands in particular -- trouble writing. My son, a medical student at the time told me to see a Rheumatologist, which I did. Diagnosis was RA. He put me on a number of medicines each one either stopped working or caused side effects I couldn't live with (like huge sores in my mouth from Methotrexate.) I am on Cimbia right now and Medrol.

Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 18

When I found out that I had RA, my symptoms were sore feet every morning and two swollen or painful joints in my hands.

REFERENCE:

McInnes, I.B., and G. Schett. "Mechanisms of Disease: The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis." N Engl J Med 365 (2011): 2205-2219.

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