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WHAT IS RA?

What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

You’ve probably asked, “What is rheumatoid arthritis?” and “How does rheumatoid arthritis affect me?” RA is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints. It occurs when your immune system, the system that protects your body from outside harm, mistakenly starts attacking healthy tissue.

This causes inflammation that leads to swelling in the joints, making them progressively less and less mobile. If not managed properly, over time, RA can cause joint damage—and can even result in permanent joint destruction.

RA affects approximately 1.3 million Americans, but unlike the more common osteoarthritis (OA), RA is not associated with factors such as aging, obesity, or injury.

How frequently does RA affect women vs. men? ClickTap for answer

How early can joint damage start?

Researchers studying RA now believe that it can begin to damage joints during the first year or two that a person has the disease. In addition, a study has found that more than 50% of RA patients had joint damage on an X-ray two years after disease symptoms began.

Learning about rheumatoid arthritis—and getting a diagnosis—is very important to help you and your rheumatologist determine the best rheumatoid arthritis management plan for you.

Joint inflammation Joint inflammation

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease with symptoms that vary from person to person and may include joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

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What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

Although the exact cause of RA is unknown, experts believe that the disease may be the result of factors including genetics, environment and more.

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How do rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis differ?

Though they have similar names and some common symptoms, RA and OA have very different causes, paths of progression and treatments.

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How does rheumatoid arthritis progress?

Over time, RA can cause ongoing destruction of cartilage, bone and other joint-related tissues—in addition to increased pain.

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Why is a prompt and accurate diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis important?

A prompt and accurate diagnosis of RA means your RA is more likely to be managed appropriately, which can increase the likelihood of leading a more active life and decrease the likelihood of further joint damage.

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What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

How is RA affecting me?

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Which doctor sees people with RA?

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