Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects more than 1.3 million people in the U.S.
It's the most common type of autoimmune arthritis (arthritis caused by your immune system rather than mechanical wear-and-tear).
RA causes joint pain and stiffness and greatly affects your quality of life. Daily activities can be painful, especially when symptoms flare.
If you have or think you may have RA, it's vital to see a rheumatologist.
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Call 1-888-349-1506 to make an appointment at a UPMC rheumatology location near you.
RA is an autoimmune disorder where your own immune system attacks normal tissues such as the joints.
In the joints, RA causes:
RA can also affect other organs.
While anyone can get RA, about 75% are women. Most people get a diagnosis between the ages of 30 and 60.
RA tends to affect the same joints on both sides of the body at the same time.It's most common for RA to affect the following joints:
RA is a chronic issue disease, which means that it stays with you over time. Symptoms are sometimes better and other times worse.
The inflammation in RA can hurt your lungs, blood vessels, heart, and spine. This is why it's crucial to have routine follow-up care with a rheumatologist.Back to top
We don't know the exact cause of RA.
Experts who study it have found that a mix of factors may trigger RA.
Common risk factors include:
RA can cause chronic pain and trouble with movement, balance, and daily tasks.
It can also lead to other problems, such as:
Sudden worsening of RA is known as a flare.
Symptoms during an RA flare can include:
To diagnose RA, your doctor will:
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and other rheumatic illnesses that can involve the joints.
Other health issues that may impact the joints include:
Your doctor will talk to you about which type of medicine is the best option for you.
We aim to help you manage symptoms while slowing the disease and preventing lasting joint damage.
We may use the following medicines alone or together:
These drugs reduce pain and inflammation and include:
These drugs quickly reduce inflammation and include:
This stands for "disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs."
These drugs slowly change the course of the disease and include:
These drugs help with inflammation and also act as DMARDs.
Biologic agents include:
Other types of therapy besides medicine can help people with RA. Physical therapy can help improve mobility and flexibility while helping you get stronger.
It's vital to talk to your doctor about self-management strategies for RA.