You may feel unusually fatigued well before any other symptoms become obvious. Fatigue can precede the onset of other symptoms by weeks or months. It may come and go from week to week or day to day. Fatigue is sometimes accompanied by a general feeling of ill health or even depression.
Morning stiffness is often an early sign of arthritis. Stiffness that lasts for a few minutes is usually a symptom of a degenerative form of arthritis. Stiffness that lasts for several hours is generally a symptom of inflammatory arthritis and is typical of RA. You may also feel stiffness after any period of prolonged inactivity like napping or sitting.
Stiffness in one or more of the smaller joints is a common early sign of RA. This can occur at any time of day, whether you are active or not. Typically, stiffness begins in the joints of the hands. It usually comes on slowly, although it can come on suddenly and affect multiple joints over the course of one or two days.