What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, which usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally[HM2] . If untreated, it can lead to long-term joint damage with resultant chronic pain, loss of function and disability. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic illness where the joint is the primary target. It may occur at any age, most commonly in middle aged women.

Physical Doctor consulting with patient Knee problems Physical therapy concept

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

While the cause of RA is unknown, some risk factors may increase the likelihood of someone developing RA; these risk factors can be genetic or environmental and include:

  • Age – RA is possible at any age, but likelihood increases with age
  • Sex – cases of RA are higher in women
  • Smoking
  • History of live birth – women who have never given birth may be at a higher risk of developing RA
  • Obesity
Signs and Symptoms of RA may include:· Aching and pain in more than one joint

How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed?

To diagnose RA, your provider will review your symptoms and history and conduct a physical examination where they will check for swelling, redness and warmth. They may also check your reflexes and muscle strength. Additionally, X-rays and lab tests may be ordered.

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

NSAIDs/Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs
Immunosuppressive medications
Biologic medicines


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