Rheumatoid Arthritis

Let's Talk About Rheumatoid Arthritis

We've got the doctor-approved scoop on rheumatoid arthritis causes, symptoms, treatments, and a jillion other facts and tips that can make life with RA easier.

    Our Pro PanelRheumatoid Arthritis

    We went to some of the nation’s top RA experts to bring you the most scientific and up-to-date information possible. Look who’s on your side:

    Stuart D. Kaplan headshot

    Stuart D. Kaplan, M.D.Chief of Rheumatology

    South Nassau Communities Hospital
    Oceanside, NY
    Carlos Sesin MD headshot

    Carlos Sesin, M.D.Chief of Rheumatology

    Mount Sinai Medical Center
    Miami Beach, FL
    Karina M. Torralba headshot

    Karina M. Torralba, M.D.Chief of Rheumatology

    Loma Linda University Health
    Loma Linda, California
    Statistics on rheumatoid arthritis, age of RA diagnosis, percentage of RA patients who are women, number of Americans with RA, percentage of people with RA who have heart disease, percentage of RA patients who go into remissions within one year
    Nikki Cagle
    Rheumatoid arthritis joint illustration
    ©The Regents of the University of California
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    Read Kirsten's Story of Tackling RA Head On

    A few years ago, Kirsten Schultz thought they'd have to give up everything they'd been working for. Their complications of RA almost became too much—almost. Read our latest installment of #HappyTears.

    Common rheumatoid arthritis treatments, nasaids, dmards, biologics, steroids
    Nikki Cagle
    Self-care tips for rheumatoid arthritis, oxygen mask theory, relax, have fun, rest, say no
    Nikki Cagle
    lene in wheelchair

    Interactive: Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Lene Andersen is an author, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. Lene (pronounced Lena) has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since she was four years old and uses her experience to help others with chronic illness.

    Featured Collections

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    Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Can you guess which world record this mom with RA broke? Find even more stories of men and women staying active with rheumatoid arthritis, from the dance studio to the shores of the Great Lakes.

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    Smart Strategies for Tackling RA

    When your body's in pain, how do you move forward? Find expert advice and use the collective wisdom of fellow RA patients and caregivers to live with greater ease at home, work, and beyond.

    sore knee

    A Parent's Guide to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

    Ready to learn everything you can about JIA? From staying active to dealing with flares, we've got you covered.

    Frequently Asked QuestionsRheumatoid Arthritis

    What is the difference between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA)?

    Sure, they might look—and even feel—very similar, but the difference is in the cause. OA is the result of years of wear and tear (see great-grandma’s bulging knuckles). RA, on the other hand, is strictly autoimmune, meaning you get it when the immune system wigs out and instead of attacking infection and bacteria, it targets healthy cells and tissues.

    How does rheumatoid arthritis affect the heart?

    People with RA are twice as likely as those without it to get coronary artery disease (CAD). While the consensus is still out on the main cause for this correlation, many cardiologists believe that chronic inflammation works with other factors like abnormal cholesterol levels to increase the risk of heart problems.

    What are the early symptoms of RA?

    The typical presentation of early RA includes joint stiffness in the mornings lasting for more than 30 minutes, and pain and swelling in the small joints of the hands or feet. Some of the atypical symptoms include fatigue, low-grade fever, and dry eyes.

    What does RA feel like?

    No two people will feel the exact same thing, but in general people start off feeling a warm or even burning sensation around the affected joints as well as a stiffness that makes movement slow. Over time, untreated inflammation can damage cartilage and bones. The space between bones can become smaller, leading to unstable, painful. Eventually, inflammatory tissue begins to build up, sometimes causing tender nodules to form around the area.

    Ayren Jackson-Cannady

    Ayren Jackson-Cannady

    Ayren Jackson-Cannady is a senior editor for HealthCentral.