Here's what to know about Rheumatoid Arthritis.

We asked the National Institutes of Health for some answers to our questions

We Know: Facts on Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease that primarily affects the joints and surrounding tissues but can also affect other organ systems.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • General discomfort, uneasiness, or malaise
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Joint pain, joint stiffness, and joint swelling
  • Joint pain may include wrist pain, knee pain, elbow pain, finger pain, toe pain, ankle pain, or neck pain
  • Limited range of motion
  • Morning stiffness lasting more than one hour
  • Deformities of hands and feet
  • Round, painless nodules under the skin
  • Skin redness or inflammation
  • Paleness
  • Swollen glands
  • Eye burning, itching, and discharge
  • Numbness or tingling

Causes, Incidents and Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown. However, RA involves an attack on the body by its own immune cells (auto-immune disease). Different cases may have different causes. Infectious, genetic, and hormonal factors may play a role.

The disease can occur at any age, but it begins most often between the ages of 25 and 55. The disease is more common in older people. Women are affected more often than men. Approximately 1-2% of the total population is affected. The course and the severity of the illness can vary considerably.

Are there and medications used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?

RA usually requires lifelong treatment, including various medications, physical therapy, education, and possibly surgery to relieve the symptoms of the disease. Early, aggressive treatment for RA can delay joint destruction. In addition to rest, strengthening exercises, and anti-inflammatory drugs, the current standard of care is to begin aggressive therapy with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) once the diagnosis is confirmed.

Anti-inflammatory agents used to treat RA traditionally include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), fenoprofen, indomethacin, naproxen (Naprosyn), and others.

Consult a health care provider before long-term use of any medication, including over-the-counter medications.

Are there any lifestyle changes that can be made to improve rheumatoid arthritis?

  • Range-of-motion exercises and individualized exercise programs prescribed by a physical therapist can delay the loss of joint function.
  • Joint protection techniques, heat and cold treatments, and splints or orthotic devices to support and align joints may be very helpful.
  • Frequent rest periods between activities, as well as 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, are recommended.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use ©

Sponsored by