Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of your joints. The most common early symptoms include:
- Fatigue – Before you experience the typical pain and stiffness, you may feel tired and generally ill.
- Morning stiffness – “When people with RA wake up in the morning, they experience stiffness that lasts for several hours, rather than just a few minutes,” says Amjad Roumany, MD, rheumatologist at Saint Francis Medical Center.
- Joint stiffness and pain – These symptoms usually begin in the hands and wrists, but can move to the shoulders, knees and ankles.
- Swelling – Inflammation of the joints, particularly in the hands, is common with early RA.
- Numbness and tingling – Inflammation can cause pressure on the nerves, which leads to numbness and tingling.
“If you notice any of these symptoms, your doctor can determine if you are in the beginning stages of arthritis,” says Roumany.
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