Understand RA progression and joint pain.

The joint pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occur when the body’s immune system malfunctions. Under normal conditions, the immune system fights unwanted invaders such as viruses and bacteria, but in RA the immune system also attacks healthy joint tissue.

As a result of this inappropriate immune response, white blood cells travel to the joint, producing certain proteins, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), interleukin-1, and others, that, over time, can signal cells to attack healthy tissue and cause ongoing destruction of cartilage, bone, and other joint-related tissues.

Studies have shown that the joint damage from RA can begin to occur within the first year or two, which is why early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are important.

RA Joint Progression

How RA damages your joints.

The animation shows a joint affected by RA. In joints with RA, white blood cells enter the synovial space and produce cytokines, which contribute to the pain, inflammation and damage to cartilage and bone.

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