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What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
Joint pain can be an early symptom of many different diseases. In RA, symptoms often develop slowly over a period of weeks or months. Fatigue and stiffness are usually early symptoms. Weight loss and a low-grade fever can also occur.
Joint symptoms include:
Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, or neck. The disease usually affects both sides of the body at the same time. In rare but severe cases, it may affect the eyes, lungs, heart, nerves, or blood vessels.
Morning stiffness. Joint stiffness may develop after long periods of sleeping or sitting. It usually lasts at least 1 hour and often up to several hours.
Bumps (nodules). Rheumatoid nodules ranging in size from a pea to a mothball form in nearly one-third of people who have RA. Nodules usually form over pressure points in the body such as the elbows, knuckles, spine, and lower leg bones.
Along with specific joint symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis can cause symptoms throughout the body (systemic). These include:
A loss of appetite.
Some of the symptoms of RA may be similar to symptoms of other health conditions.