Rheumatoid arthritis can start in any joint, but it most commonly begins in the smaller joints of fingers, hands and wrists. Joint involvement is usually symmetrical i.e. if a joint hurts on the left hand the same joint will hurt on the right hand.
Symptoms related to the joints include:
- Pain - Pain is present both at rest and during movement. The intensity of pain is felt more during movement than at rest. The pain is dull natured.
- Tenderness - Tenderness is present over the affected joints and can be caused by a gentle pressure on the affected area by means of touch or pressure of clothes.
- Morning stiffness - The joints become stiff especially after waking up in the morning.
- Loss of movement in joint and joint deformity - Over a period of time, joints may lose their range of motion and may become deformed.
Systemic symptoms may include:
- Loss of energy
- Lack of appetite
- Low grade fever
- Chest pain while breathing in
- Dry eyes and mouth (Sjogren’s syndrome)
- Burning and itching of the eye; and discharge from the eye
- Nodules beneath the skin
- Numbness, tingling or burning in the hands and feet
- Sleep disturbances