Arthritis is a group of diseases that makes your joints hurt, swell up, and turn red. There are many different types of arthritis.
RA is a type of arthritis in which your body's immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more attacks your joints.
RA is more common in women and usually starts in people between 35 and 50 years old, but it can start at any age
It can affect any joint but is particularly common in your hands and feet
Joints are swollen, painful, and stiff in the morning and often become deformed after many years
Sometimes RA affects other parts of your body, including your heart, lungs, eyes, and blood vessels
Doctors can tell if you have RA based on your symptoms, x-rays, and blood tests
Treatments can include medicines, exercise, and sometimes surgery
RA is an autoimmune disease Autoimmune Diseases "Auto" is a medical term for "self." The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system usually attacks invading bacteria, viruses... read more . The immune system is part of your body's defense system, which helps protect you from illness and infection. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks parts of your own body by mistake—in RA, your immune system attacks your joints and sometimes other parts of your body. Doctors don't know exactly what causes your immune system to attack your joints.
Symptoms usually start gradually.
The most common symptoms include:
Along with the joint pain, you may feel generally sick with symptoms like:
After awhile, if the joint problems get worse, you may:
You might also have problems that don't involve your joints. For example, you may have:
Most people with RA develop some disabilities but can still lead normal lives. Some people become more disabled, like those with severe deformities of their hands.
Your doctor can tell if you have RA from:
Doctors treat RA with medicines that can:
Doctors may suggest you:
Doctors may also suggest: