Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, incurable disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks the lining of healthy joints. The inflammation of the joints from rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling, pain, stiffness, and tenderness of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common chronic inflammatory diseases.
According to the Arthritis Society, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in anyone from toddlers to seniors, but most commonly appears in people ages 25 – 50, affects approximately 1% of the world’s population, and is 2 – 3 times more common in women than it is in men.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect a number of joints in the body. These include the fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, jaw, ankles, knees, and hips.
Common symptoms of RA include:
Current treatment options are limited for this incurable disease. Medications (such as aspirin), prescription therapies (such as biologic injections), surgery, exercise, and applying heat to an arthritic area are the current treatment options for individuals with RA. However, new medications are being developed.
Without treatment, rheumatoid arthritis can be disabling. Lack of treatment can result in chronic pain, loss of function, and disability. Treatment can help prevent progressive joint damage.