RA starts in the feet as often as in the hands. Mine had started in my feet long before I was given a diagnosis. My feet came to feel like dense bricks. The whole main part of my feet, all those little joints, were swollen and in pain. The three middle toes on each foot were swollen and would have sporadic shooting pains. I had a hard time walking.
My hands have almost equal billing. Knuckles are enlarged and always have some degree of swelling. I use a simple rubber square jar opener to do the job of opening jars and bottles. I keep scissors around the house. They make it so much easier to open many things.
Symmetry is a hallmark symptom of RA. Left foot and right foot. Middle three toes each side.
Any synovial joint in the body can be affected. My left jaw (mandible) joints were so inflamed and swollen last week that I had to be put on a course of Medrol (methylprednisolone).
Sometimes RA starts with one joint. However, it soon will be joined by its mate.
So the RA body has to deal with a great deal of joint pain. M0anageable with a good rheumatologist and possibly a pain management specialist. Don’t let any healthcare worker tell you to ‘suck it up’ or to meditate through it. Take the pain medicine. RA pain is real. It seriously interferes with quality of life and mobility. Most patients with RA have extremely high tolerances for pain. By the time they say they are in pain, they mean it and they really need relief. Pain medicine, like Tramadol, is simply a tool to help keep you mobile.
There is a fatigue that is unique to RA. It is a feeling that permeates every cell in your RA body. The medical world takes fatigue seriously now. The medical world ignored fatigue until research demonstrated that it was a debilitating problem. Fatigue is a complex symptom. The disease process of RA itself can cause it. The cytokines added to the blood stream can cause it. The body’s pain response can contribute to it. The side effects of treatment medications can cause it. People who take the TNF inhibitors sometimes find relief. My medical treatment has helped to relieve me of mine.