Rheumatoid arthritis afflicts millions of people and can significantly reduce one’s quality of life. The early symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis include pain, redness and swelling in the small joints (typically the hands and/or feet) on both sides of the body. Unlike osteoarthritis which causes pain and stiffness because the cartilage that normally prevents the bones in the joints from rubbing together is wearing away, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are caused by an inflammation of the membrane that normally lubricates and protects the joints.

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In addition to the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, small nodules or lumps may be present under the skin near the joints. Some research concerning the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis has been done in hopes of finding early warning signs of the disease in the bloodstream. As the disease progresses, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms sometimes worsen to the point of joint deformity. If early warning signs can be identified before the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis appear, then doctors may be able to prevent the disease from progressing to the point where joint deformity occurs.

But, much research is still necessary before this can happen. Currently doctors are only able to make a confirmed diagnosis after the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis appear. Although it is understood what causes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, it is unclear what causes the disease itself. It is believed that the auto-immune system, which normally attacks and destroys harmful bacteria and viruses in the body, goes “haywire,” and attacks healthy cells of the body, causing inflammation or swelling and stiffness in the joints as well as other parts of the body.

Less common symptoms

Some less common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include: inflammation of the lining around the heart and lungs, inflammation of the tear and salivary glands, and in rare cases, general inflammation of the lungs and blood vessels. While the early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are confined to the joints, other systems of the body can also be affected, particularly if it is not treated. Treating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms typically consists of treating the pain and reducing the inflammation. In most cases the drugs of choice are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or (NSAIDs), but these may have harsh side effects including damage to the stomach lining and kidneys.

Cox-2 inhibitors have also been used to treat the common symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis, but some have dangerous side effects and may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. The early symptoms for rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with corticosteroids, but these are not used for long term care, because they become ineffective and may lead to thinning of the bones, weight gain and diabetes.


Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms typically come and go, sometimes over a person’s entire lifespan, and they may range from non-existent or mild to moderate or severe. Different drugs and treatments may be prescribed depending on the severity of the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and the stage of progression of the disease. Some fascinating recent research indicates that the fruit and the rind of the mangosteen may provide safe and effective relief for the common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Components found in the mangosteen are anti-inflammatory and COX-2 inhibiting, while others are anti-ulcer and cardio-protective.