Affecting the Lining of the Joints
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease that affects the lining of the joints. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness. Left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis may damage joints so badly that they no longer function. This disease appears most often in young-adult to middle-age women.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect most joints. The hands, wrists, elbows, knees, and balls of the feet are common sites. This disease often affects the same joint on both sides of the body. Symptoms may include:
- Tender, swollen inflamed joints. They may also look red and feel warm.
- Stiff joints. Long periods of rest or using a joint too long or too hard can make stiffness worse.
- Joints that have lost normal shape and motion.
- Feeling tired.
Diagnosing RA may be difficult in the early stages. This is because symptoms may be very mild, and signs of the disease may not be seen on X-rays or in blood tests. There is no cure for RA. The goal of treatment is often to limit pain and inflammation, and help ensure function.
Getting your RA into remission may require a regimen of many medications or immunosuppressants. It is also common that some of these medications may not work,and you will have to change your treatment many times to find the appropriate regimen for you. These are decisions that your rheumatologist can help guide.