What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common types of inflammatory arthritis. The cause of RA isn’t known, although experts believe it’s an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system begins to attack the joints.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include joint pain, swelling and stiffness. At first, rheumatoid arthritis usually only attacks a few joints, but over time it affects more. Many people experience worse RA pain in the morning or after they’ve been sitting or lying down for awhile. It can also cause fatigue.

If you’re diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, your physician will likely refer you to a rheumatologist.

Early treatment is important as it can make the disease more likely to go into remission. Unlike some other types of arthritis, the chronic swelling from RA can cause permanent damage to the joints. RA is also linked to heart disease.

 

People with rheumatoid arthritis can have a difficult time gripping simple objects like utensils.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

Rheumatoid arthritis treatments include disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics (medications produced from living organisms or components of living organisms). Other medication options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and analgesics (painkillers).

If you aren’t responding to first-line rheumatoid arthritis therapies, then your rheumatologist may offer you a second-line therapy. Second-line therapies are a major advance in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and may be pills, injections under the skin or intravenous infusions.

Along with arthritis medications, you may need to make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart disease. If you smoke, take steps to quit, and maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.

 

Talk to your rheumatologist if you want more information about rheumatoid arthritis treatments.