What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body.
RA mainly attacks the joints, usually many joints at once. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. In a joint with RA, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage to joint tissue. This tissue damage can cause long-lasting or chronic pain, unsteadiness (lack of balance), and deformity (misshapenness).
RA can also affect other tissues throughout the body and cause problems in organs such as the lungs, heart, and eyes.
The signs and symptoms of RA? Are times when symptoms get worse, known as flares, and times when symptoms get better, known as remission.
• Pain or aching in more than one joint.
• Stiffness in more than one joint.
• Tenderness and swelling in more than one joint.
• The same symptoms on both sides of the body (such as in both hands or both knees).
• Weight loss.
• Fatigue, or tiredness.
What causes RA?
RA is the result of an immune response in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells. The specific causes of RA are unknown, but some factors can increase the risk of developing the disease.
How is RA treated?
RA can be effectively treated and managed with medication(s) and self-management strategies. Treatment for RA usually includes the use of medications that slow disease and prevent joint deformity, called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs); biological response modifiers (biologicals) are medications that are effective second-line treatment.
In addition to medications, people can manage their RA with self-management strategies proven to reduce pain and disability, allowing them to pursue the activities important to them. People with RA can relieve pain and improve joint function by learning to use five simple and effective arthritis management strategies.