How did my symptoms start? I had swelling and stiffness in three metacarpophalangeal joints on both hands. I noticed the symptoms immediately because my hands are my tools. I have been a Nationally Certified massage therapist for the last seven years. I use my hands to work for anywhere from three to six hours during my five work days each week. I cannot give the massage my clients require without these tools. Some days it just freaks me out to even imagine what will ultimately happen to these hands.

At first I thought maybe I was just working too hard. But the symptoms persisted even after I took a long holiday weekend off. Some days the swelling would minimize and others it would be more difficult. So far it hasn’t been unbearable.

As I learned more about RA, I realized that I have had minor symptoms in my feet for probably about 2 years. At first I thought I was doing too much yoga. And then I thought maybe I wasn’t doing enough. Either way, I know that walking down the stairs in the middle of the night requires a kind of jumping while holding the railings so that the pressure on those two bilateral joints is minimized. Thankfully I haven’t had to do that lately …