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Does this sound like RA?

I have osteoarthritis in my spine, as well as degenerative disc disease and inflamed facet joints, and was diagnosed with RLS which came on very suddenly in April.

in the past few weeks, I have developed diffuse unilateral joint pain with heat. It feels like tiny knives digging in my joints, it started with fingers, now hands, wrists, shoulders knees ankles feet and toes. I feel as if I am covered in these areas by tiny paper cuts and cannot bear to be touched.

My temperature is spiking and I get a lot of vertigo, I was originally worse at night, and now have progressed to day being just the same.

I cannot believe how fast this has happened. I also get a lot of muscular pains with headaches


My GP has ordered blood tests, and he did talk about RA, and he also said it could possibly be RLS.

The Pain killers I take Tramadol and paracetamol are doing know good for the pain, and I rarely sleep because of it.

Is it normal for RA to be start like this?

Best wishes to all Cazx

12 Replies

I can only describe my own RA onset. It affected my feet badly so I couldn't bear to walk. It was like walking on a pebble beach. Then my wrists swelled up and finally my fingers became painful and used to lock, so they were impossible to bend.

Classic RA affects both sides of the body and tends to attack hands and feet, finges and toes. The joints would be hot, probably swollen, and helped with anti-inflammatories and cold compresses.

But everyone is a bit different. I hope you get the answers you need soon.

Take care.


Thank you for your answer Phoebe, what you describe sounds very familiar except I started with fingers and went on from there, and I know what you mean about the pebbly beach. I keep getting ice packs out, as it is the only relief I have found, although I cannot get too cold either!



Hi Caz. Sorry to be ignorant but what is RLS?

I really can't say how RA comes on for others - it seems to vary a great deal. Some get it slowly with negative blood readings and others get sudden onset with very obvious symptoms and very positive blood readings (in a sense these are the lucky ones because they get put straight onto aggressive treatment and stand a greater chance of going into remission) although I imagine it's also terrifying. Most people are like me - somewhere in between with flares and then periods where it all seems like a bad dream - slowly just getting worse until diagnosed.

The majority start it in their small joints such as fingers, knuckles and toes and some just start with flu-like ache and a raised temperature before it actually affects the joints.

For me it started with hot flashes in my limbs and then my knees and wrists became extremely painful suddenly but I have never had much visible swelling so it wasn't straight forward to diagnose despite raised blood markers. And now the drugs are doing their stuff but I think it's starting to creep around the edges again a little only I'm hoping I'm just imagining this. When at worst it did feel as if my skin was very sore too - a sort of burning, corrosive acid pain that made the joint feel as if it was fractured. I believe this is quite different to OA pain which I have experienced in some of my fingers too - RA is less straightforward mechanical pain and more systemic and acid like - as if poison was running through the veins and joints somehow -n for me anyway. Good luck with the blood tests and let us know how you get on. Tilda x


Oh yes and like Phoebe my feet were excruciating at the start as if walking on hot coals every morning - hellish! TTx


Sorry Tilda, RLS is restless leg syndrome, It usually effects the legs although some people also get it in their arms and other areas too, it is as if you have to move constantly mostly at night, and is also for me, very painful. I got it out of the blue, and very severely it affected most of my body with limb jerking also. It is really unusual to go from nothing to 24/7, which is why my doctor is looking at other things.

I feel the same , as if I have acid or severe sunburn in my joints particularly fingers and toes, they do feel broken, very painful, exactly like poison through the veins, a very good description, thank you.



Oh dear I feel for you Caz. I went through a very bad stage last year of waking with joints locked tight so moving was astonishingly painful and my husband said I kept crying and yelling out all through the night. My doctor put me on ani-inflamatories 24/7 as I was waiting for a second visit to the rheumatologist and this worked but am always restless at night - I think it's habitual as I am now always scared of the joints locking again so I can relate to your experience of the RLS quite easily. It does sound as if your condition is inflammatory in some way but there are other related conditions such as Lupus (which comes with headaches) and PsA so diagnosis can be very hard. Please push to see a rheumatologist as soon as possible because the earlier you can be started on disease modifying drugs the better your chances of getting to a state of drug induced remission as I am currently in (unofficially I might add as my inflammatory markers are still too high) but I'm not in much pain at all so things can and should be done to help you once diagnosed. This is the worst part you are at so please take hope and be as pushy as you can muster. Tilda x


Thanks Tilda,I will have to wait as my GP is away for another fortnight, and I cannot take ordinary anti inflammatory because of a stomach problem, I was on Celebrex for another problem, and they were fine, but he said I had been on them too long and stopped me taking them, maybe I will look and see if I have any left, just for now.



Hello Cazbaz

I am so sorry you are struggling so much. I hope very much that if your GP does think you may have RA, he will refer you urgently to a rheumatologist.

I'm guessing that RLS is restless legs? I have RLS too and the GP suggested I try Oromorph liquid to see if that helped - and it has helped brilliantly! You may already know this, but there is an RLS forum here on Health Unlocked which you might find of interest.

Really hope you can get a proper diagnosis sooner rather than later.



Yes Tilly, Restless legs, and very severe, I too hope he sends me to someone soon, as I am daily getting visibly worse, my joints are on fire.

thank you very much for taking the time to answer, Cazx


You're welcom Caz. I really do hope you get some hope very soon on both the joints and the RLS. My understanding is that most of the RLS licensed meds can only be prescribed by a neurologist which takes time - but if the GP is willing to let you try Oromorph you might get some quick relief from that at least.



Hi Cazbaz

The joint pain and heat in the joints that you are experiencing sound like typical symptoms of RA, however the spiking in temperature and vertigo are not symptoms that are commonly associated with RA. There are many different types of arthritis and causes of joint pain, so hopefully you will know a little more when the GP has run some blood tests. There is a useful article on the blood tests used in the diagnosis of RA on our website: nras.org.uk/about_rheumatoi...

Unfortunately the blood tests are not a definitive way of diagnosing RA and so if RA is suspected your GP should be referring you to a rheumatologist to investigate further. It may be worth asking your GP if they can recommend any other painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs in the meantime, if what you are currently taking does not seem to be effective. We also have an article on our website on managing the pain of RA which you may find helpful at this time: nras.org.uk/about_rheumatoi...

I hope you manage to get to the bottom of this soon.

Kind regards

Sarah Kate



Thank you so much Sarahkate, these links are brilliant.

I have a telephone consultation tomorrow with my Doctor, so I will find out the results of the blood tests then,

I will try to get some different pain killers, he tends to brush me off when I talk to him about this, He does not seem to want to change things at the moment, until we know more about what is going on, meanwhile I am getting more and more exhausted from lack of sleep, I am only getting a couple of hours at night, and this is making me feel very depressed,

It is a vicious circle, I shall just have to hang in there for now.

Best wishes Cazx


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