Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Aggressive treatment with new, sophisticated drugs can prevent disability.
WebMD Feature

Carla Guillory was in her 30s -- enjoying life, raising her kids -- when the first symptoms began. "We'd been hiking on vacation, and I thought I had bruised my foot, but it didn't seem to get better. Then my hands started aching," she remembers.

Right away, doctors suspected she had rheumatoid arthritis. Guillory was tenacious about finding the right doctor -- one who would treat her aggressively. She knew she had to tackle this thing head-on, she says. And that she did -- with disease-modifying drugs that helped curb the damaging inflammation at her joints.

That aggressive treatment, and getting it early, has made all the difference, says Guillory. "I have some deformity in my hands, but not a whole lot. It's nothing like other people I've met."

The Changing Picture of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Twenty years ago, the picture for most patients was very different. "A person in the fairly young part of life would get this disease, and within five years they would be deformed and disabled. About half the people with RA had to quit working within 10 years," says Stephen Lindsey, MD, chairman of rheumatology at the Ochsner Clinical Foundation in Baton Rouge, La.

More than two million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA. About 75% of them are women, according to the American College of Rheumatology. While RA can develop at any age, it often begins between ages 30 and 50. Pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited motion and function of joints -- especially hand and foot joints -- are the primary symptoms.

Today, doctors are better able better to diagnose the disease, determine how advanced it is - and how best to treat it, says Lindsey. New research has revealed more about the disease itself.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body mistakenly identifies certain cells as foreign and attacks them -- triggering the inflammation that damages healthy joints. Exactly what sparks this malfunction remains unclear, but research has led to important new treatments.

Some remarkable drugs have emerged to specifically short-circuit the immune system malfunction, says Lindsey, who has treated Guillory for the past eight years. "The last decade's been amazing. It used to be that we could treat the pain but not the disability. That's dramatically different now. The key is early diagnosis, then aggressive treatment with the right medicine."

Next Article:

How does RA affect your life?