RA causes swelling in the lining of the joints, which leads to redness, pain, swelling, and a feeling of heat or warmth in the area. Morning stiffness of the joints can last at least an hour. You may also feel fatigued or ill, have dry eyes or dry mouth, or have bumps under the skin called rheumatoid nodules. Although many of the body's joints may be affected, RA is most common in the hands and feet.

Symptoms of RA can vary from person to person. About one-third of those affected have mild symptoms at first, which may go away after several weeks or months, but that doesn't mean that damage to the joints is not occurring. For some people, when symptoms come back, they can be more severe, get worse over time, eventually cause disabling joint deformities if left untreated, and may even require surgery.

When symptoms are bad, they are called "flares." In some people, symptoms develop quite quickly and may cause damage or erosion to joints within 2 years of onset. Unfortunately, there is no cure for RA, but with the right treatment symptoms can be managed and progression of joint damage may be slowed down.