The effects of rheumatoid arthritis aren’t limited to your joints. Find out how it can make you feel from head to toe.

What Does RA
Feel Like?


Your Joints Hurt

Not necessarily all of them at the same time though. RA often starts in the small joints of the hands and feet before migrating to bigger ones like the knees.

And They Ache on
Both Sides

This is a key factor: RA typically affects symmetrical joints (i.e. the knuckles of both hands). Other forms of arthritis tend to affect just one side.

If you wake up feeling like the Tin Man, RA could be to blame. RA stiffness lasts at least 30 minutes and improves the more you move.

Your Joints Are Stiff, Especially in the A.M.

We’re not talking just a little tired. People with RA often feel so fatigued they can’t do the things they usually do (including just getting out of bed).

You’re Exhausted for No Obvious Reason

RA can make you feel generally lousy and rundown, sort of like when you have a bad cold. You may even run a low-grade fever of 99°F or 100°F.

You Feel a Little Feverish

Brain fog is real, people. RA-induced inflammation can make it harder to concentrate or remember tasks. About 30% of patients have this kind of cognitive impairment.

You Can’t Seem to Think Straight

RA produces inflammatory proteins called cytokines that impact metabolism and can cause muscle to break down. Ongoing inflammation also diminishes your appetite.

Your Pants Feel Looser

Only about 10% of RA patients experience this dryness. It’s a condition called secondary Sjogren’s disease, which impacts tear and saliva production.

Your Eyes and/or Mouth Feel Unusually Dry

If RA swelling is affecting your wrists, it could compress the median nerve, leading to the pins-and-needles sensation of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Your Hands Feel Numb
or Tingly

About 25% of RA patients develop lung disease. If you’re coughing, wheezing, or have trouble catching your breath, especially if you have other symptoms, see a rheumatologist stat.

You Feel Breathless


Ready to learn more about the symptoms of RA?