What were your various symptoms before being diagnosed with RA?

I’m new to this forum and to RA so thank you in advance for sharing your stories. My question for this community is this: What were the different symptoms you experienced over the years prior to your diagnosis? I understand that because RA is an autoimmune disease it can present differently in people. I’m just trying to get a better understanding of the nuances.

I’m newly diagnosed with RA. Leading up to this diagnosis, most recently, I’ve had four months of specific symptoms of unknown origin (I’m not happy with my Rheumatologist so I’m searching for others to try out.). I went through all of the different diagnostic tests, even to rule out the really scary stuff (i.e. cancer, meningitis, lupus, etc.). My symptoms: persistent low-grade fever, fatigue (extreme), cognitive impairment, intermittent nausea resulting in vomiting. Most recently, immediately before my diagnosis, I was put on a round of prednisone (which I do not respond to well, to say the least) and started getting pain in the joints of my index, middle, pinky fingers and thumbs and it worsened day by day, with swelling/nodules and swollen, tight, shiny skin at the tops of my fingers. The symptoms were mirrored in both hands and I felt really crappy overall. I had bouts of severe emotional reaction which, after reading, I realize are a symptom/side effect of RA.

Over the years, I’ve had varying symptoms of overall fatigue, gut problems, soreness, going undiagnosed. Or, maybe even misdiagnosed, as I had been put on anti-depressants early on but didn’t find that it helped much. I’m still doing my research and unfamiliar with how it can manifest or be dormant for folks. Thank you!


Community Answers
  • mewhoshops
    1 month ago

    I haven’t been officially diagnosed yet but do/have experienced many of the same symptoms. I was diagnosed about 20 years ago with osteoarthritis so i thought that was just worsening. Now i have a couple of fingers that i can’t bend…frozen, my left hip is so painful i have trouble sleeping and sitting without leaning my weight on my right hip. My neck pain is worsening by the day. As I’m thinking about if there was a specific moment that i noticed something changed a light bulb is going off. I remember a time at work when i became so fatigued that i was struggling to get through the day, I would come home from work and told my husband that i felt feverish and would go straight to bed and sleep sometimes up to 14 hours a day. I literally thought i was dying of some horrible disease because it came on so suddenly! This lasted for months. If that was the beginning of RA for me i can say that I’ve been unwell for several years but definitely have had some partial remission off and on over the past 12-15 years. This flare up has been mostly continuous for about 4 years with short remission here and there. I will say though that when i did a low carb diet with no dairy, wheat, corn, or sugar i felt great. I think I’m inn to something. Thanks for bringing this up because it has allowed me to think through my own story in a way that I’ve been unable to do until now!!!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    2 months ago

    Hey @BDrenA! Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story so openly!!

    I personally was lucky and diagnosed pretty quickly after a bad flare landed me in bed. However, looking back on the few years before I realized I was probably showing symptoms and didn’t realize it.

    All the best and please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need extra support or just want to talk! ~Monica
    I should preface my story by saying up until my RA I was extremely healthy and fit (I was 20 at the time of my diagnosis). I was in college when I first exhibited symptoms. I remember not being able to climb the three flights of stairs to my dorm room, barely able to carry my backpack (with little to no books in them) and slept for over 12 hours a day.

    At the time I was a little bored and depressed and just assumed I was tired and unhappy. I should have known something was wrong because these were all new feelings but of course, I didn’t because I was (at least to me) a perfectly healthy young adult.

    The symptoms you’re experiencing sound similar to many of our community members but I would strongly suggest you speak to your doctor about your concerns. It’s important for them to have all the facts in order to treat/help you properly.

  • Nell
    3 months ago

    I just started having pain in my fingers. A couple of them became swollen. I didn’t have any other symptoms. After one year, I finally went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with RA. I have been on medication for a few months but they haven’t worked yet. The best was prednisone injections to my fingers. But in the last couple of weeks I am feeling a little pain in my elbows. So I am still waiting for the medication to work.

  • Alice
    3 months ago

    For years before my actual diagnosis I had fatigue and pain in one wrist and legs. My physician at the time diagnosed me with Osteoarthritis and prescribed a short treatment of Feldene. I always noticed I had less stamina than other people my age. After years of sinus infections and other illnesses, I saw my new primary doctor for an infection and during the visit I noted my joints on both hands hurt.With no family history of RA she insisted I be tested. Per the test results I was referred to the Rheumatologist who confirmed the diagnosis.

  • Jacquekay
    3 months ago

    One night at the end of my shift I noticed the back of my hands were hurting. A few day later one shoulder hurt so bad I couldn’t lift use my arm and couldn’t work. And so it went, overlapping from one joint to the next. My Dr. ordered a full body scan and the technician told that I had inflammation in ever joint in my body-I said I could have told her that without all this being done!

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