Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a
long-term disease that leads to inflammation (redness, swelling and
pain) that can damage joints and less commonly other organ systems such
as the lungs, heart, skin, eyes and blood vessels. The cause is unknown
but infection, genes, and hormone changes may be partly to blame.
RA is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in which the body
mistakenly attacks healthy joints and tissues. RA can occur at any age,
but is more common in middle age and affects more women than men.
Children can also get this disease.
Symptoms of RA vary from person to person, but inflammation of the
joints leads to pain, deformity and disability making every day
activities difficult to perform. Inflammation of the joints occurs daily
for at least six weeks and is associated with stiffness in the joints
that lasts more than thirty minutes. This is an important difference
from osteoarthritis in which the inflammation comes for days to a few
weeks at a time and the stiffness is less than thirty minutes. Your
rheumatologist will examine you, get blood tests and x-rays to make a
There is no cure for RA and the disease progresses without treatment.
Fortunately, we live in a time when there are many effective treatments
available to slow down the progression of the disease and help you feel
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