Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Knee

By Rena Sherwood

  • Overview

    Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Knee
    Rheumatoid arthritis can happen in any body joint, not just the knees. When it affects one knee, often the other is affected. Rheumatoid arthritis does not get better on its own and must be treated by a doctor or rheumatologist. People of all ages can get rheumatoid arthritis in the knee, and it is important to see a doctor for the correct diagnosis.
  • Inflammation

    The main symptom of rheumatoid arthritis in the knee is inflammation, which causes pain, tenderness and swelling. The knee may not be able to move up to a half hour at a time and it may become stiff for up to an hour at a time. It is swollen because the synovium lining of the knee joint has become inflamed. Just why this occurs remains unknown.
  • Difficulty Walking

    Because of the pain and stiffness, it can be very difficult to walk. This happens particularly in the morning or anytime the patient wakes up from sleep. The knee becomes visibly swollen and may be warm to the touch after movement is attempted. Walking is also difficult in very cold or rainy weather, which can inflame rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.


  • Fever

    Many people with rheumatoid arthritis in the knee also develop fever as the body tries to fight the inflammation. This is usually a low-grade fever and can come and go in the course of a day. The fever can cause the patient to feel tired all of the time and lose his appetite, leading to weight loss. If the patient loses his appetite but he is in too much pain to move, then weight gain could aggravate the arthritis.
  • Time Frame

    If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed (often by X-rays), the sooner treatment and pain relief can begin. Attacks can happen continuously, but they often come and go in attack periods called flare-ups, which can last for days or weeks.
  • If Not Treated

    If left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis in the knee develops another symptom in later stages: growth of rheumatoid nodules. These are like little hard bumps right under the skin, stretched over the top of the knee. These bumps aren't painful, but they can make moving the knee even more difficult and render the knee useless. Rheumatoid arthritis often spreads to other joints in the body such as the hips, spine, wrists, fingers and neck.
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