Is this topic for you?
There are many types of
arthritis (disease of the joints). This topic is about
rheumatoid arthritis. If you are looking for information about how juvenile
idiopathic (rheumatoid) arthritis affects young children, see the topic
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. If you are looking for
information on the most common form of arthritis in older adults, see the topic
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes
joints to become
swollen, stiff, and painful (inflamed).
Over time, this
inflammation may destroy the joint tissues. This can limit your daily
activities and make it hard for you to walk and use your hands.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men. It often
begins between the ages of 40 and 60.
What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
The exact cause is not known. But rheumatoid arthritis is an
autoimmune disease. This means that the body's natural
defense system attacks the joints. The disease may run in some families.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are pain, stiffness, and
swelling in the joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, or
neck . The disease usually affects both sides of the body at the same time. In
rare but severe cases, it may affect the eyes, lungs, heart, nerves, or blood
Sometimes the disease
can cause bumps called nodules to form over the elbows, knuckles, spine, and
lower leg bones.
How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?
There is no single test for rheumatoid
arthritis. Your doctor will do a physical exam and look at your joints for signs of swelling or
tenderness. He or she will also ask about your symptoms and past health.
You may have blood tests,
X-rays, and other tests to find out if another problem
is causing your joint pain.
How is it treated?
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis continues throughout your life. It includes medicine,
exercise, and lifestyle changes. Getting treatment early may control the condition or keep it from getting worse.
the medicines used to treat rheumatoid arthritis have side effects. So it is
important to have regular checkups and talk with your doctor about any
problems. This will help your doctor find a treatment that works for you.