In some instances, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, particularly pain, swelling, and stiffness, develop rapidly, sometimes in a matter of weeks. In other instances, the onset is gradual, with only a few symptoms appearing at first.
The full complement of RA symptoms can take years to develop. For many people, RA ebbs and flows -- causing "flares" or " attacks" followed by periods of remission.
Without treatment, the condition usually does worsen, leading to joint deformity and sometimes causing inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis) and lungs (pleuritis).
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