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What are the Most Common Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2018
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There are a number of common signs of rheumatoid arthritis. These include pain within the joint, swelling, and tenderness. In most cases, pain gets worse for periods of time, in what is known as a "flare up." Stiffness is another common sign of rheumatoid arthritis, along with warmth in the affected area, and inflamed nodules. Signs of rheumatoid arthritis may also include symptoms that mimic a flu or common cold.

Of all the signs of rheumatoid arthritis, pain in the affected joint is the most common. In most cases, this will be an aching pain rather than a sharp one. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis may also suffer from a throbbing sensation in the joint. The pain is usually felt when the person is resting or hasn't moved for a long time, such as in the morning or while sitting at a computer.

As well as pain inside the joint, a person with arthritis may have swollen joints. These can often be painful to touch, and may also be warm. Swelling can spread to other areas of the body, including organs such as the lungs and heart.

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Signs of rheumatoid arthritis tend to be bilateral, which means that they occur on both sides of the body. If, for example, the condition affects the wrist, it will usually affect both at the same time. The pain also often occurs in "flare ups," i.e., when the symptoms get worse over a period of time. Flare ups are difficult to predict and can last anywhere from a day to several months.

Along with pain, a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis may find that his or her joints feel stiff. Again, this is most common in the morning or after sitting for an extended period of time. Stiffness can sometimes last for about an hour. As noted, pain and stiffness tend to occur during periods of inactivity, rather than activity.

There are a number of other signs of rheumatoid arthritis which may or may not be present. These include a warm feeling around the joint, lumps of inflamed skin which are called nodules, and reduced strength. Nodules usually occur around the affected joint or on the hands or feet. Someone with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience general symptoms such as a fever or constant tiredness. Which symptoms are present and how long they persist depend on a number of different factors and can vary among patients.

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