It is important to differentiate the cause for joint pain by
inflammatory conditions and non-inflammatory conditions.
(1) Rheumatoid arthritis: Symmetric joint swelling with
associated warmth, tenderness, stiffness, and pain. Although any joints may be
affected, the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpophalangeal joints of the
fingers are most often involved. After months or years of deformity, the most
common deformities are ulnar deviation of the fingers, "swan-neck" deformity
(hyperextension of the distal interphalangeal joint with flexion of the
proximal interphalangeal joint), and valgus deformity of the knee. Systemic
symptoms of weight loss, malaise, and fever are often present as well as
complaints of morning stiffness.
(2) Infectious arthritis: Symptoms of hot, swollen joints and
fever often with a sudden onset.