Once you have it, you'll always have it—daunting words for any health condition. Fortunately, for those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, there are physical and emotional treatment options that make living with the condition bearable and a healthy, active lifestyle still attainable.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that causes joint inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness. It usually affects finger and wrist joints, but it can attack just about any joint in the body, including feet, knees, elbows, hips or shoulders. And the damage doesn't stop there. RA can hurt other parts of your body as well, such as your heart, lungs, eyes, nerves and digestive system.
Left untreated—or undertreated—many people with rheumatoid arthritis develop some form of disability, so early, aggressive treatment is key to maintaining an active life.
Signs and Symptoms of RA
The most common symptoms of RA are:
Pain, stiffness and other symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by many things, from a viral or bacterial infection, to Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus (another type of arthritis), fibromyalgia or simply an injury or strain.
If you experience unusual or persistent pain of any kind, make an appointment with a doctor to determine what may be causing your symptoms.
What are the causes and risk factors of RA?