Skip to main content
Explore URMC



About Early Arthritis

Definition and Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects joints, most frequently the small joints of the hands and feet. If the inflammation is not treated optimally or in a timely manner, it can lead to destruction of the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is about 3-4 times more common in women than in men and most often begins between the ages of 40 and 60 years old. It is an autoimmune disease which means that for some unknown reason the body identifies some cells in the body as foreign and results in inflammation of joints as well as eyes, lungs, nerves, heart and skin. The joints are the most commonly affected part of the body.

Some common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:

  • Joint Pain: Typically in the small joints of the hands, wrists, ankles and feet
  • Joint Swelling: Same areas as joint pain
  • Morning Stiffness: Lasting more than one hour
  • Fatigue


If the above symptoms last for more than 2-3 weeks and don’t respond to over-the-counter medications such as Motrin, Advil (ibuprofen), or Aleve (Naproxen), make an appointment with your doctor.

Your primary care physician may order blood tests and refer you to a rheumatologist who is a doctor that specializes in the treatment of arthritis and autoimmune diseases.

The Early Arthritis Clinic is dedicated to seeing patients with new onset of joint symptoms that aims to see patients with inflammatory arthritis within 6-12 weeks of when the symptoms began. For patients with a long standing diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or other forms of arthritis, a referral to the general rheumatology clinic may be more appropriate.