- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can cause chronic inflammation of the joints and other areas of the body.
- Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known.
- Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and signs include fatigue, joint pain, swollen joints, fever, loss of joint function, as well as joint stiffness, redness, warmth, tenderness, and deformity.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by periods of disease flares and remissions.
- In rheumatoid arthritis, multiple joints are usually, but not always, affected in a symmetrical pattern.
- Chronic inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent joint destruction and deformity.
- Damage to joints can occur early and does not always correlate with the severity of RA symptoms.
- The "rheumatoid factor" is an antibody that can be found in the blood of 80% of people with rheumatoid arthritis.
- There is no cure for RA. The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis optimally involves a combination of patient education, rest and exercise, joint protection, medications such as NSAIDs, DMARDs, TNF alpha inhibitors, immunosuppressants, and steroids, and occasionally surgery.
- Early RA treatment results in better outcomes.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms and Signs
While early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can actually be mimicked by other diseases, the symptoms are very characteristic of rheumatoid disease. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and signs include the following:
- Joint pain
- Joint tenderness
- Joint swelling
- Joint redness
- Joint warmth
- Stiffness of joints, particularly worse in the morning
- Many joints affected (polyarthritis).