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Rheumatoid Arthritis

Also called: RA

Summary

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers.

More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts in middle age and is most common in older people. You might have the disease for only a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime.

Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis, the common arthritis that often comes with older age. RA can affect body parts besides joints, such as your eyes, mouth and lungs. RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the arthritis results from your immune system attacking your body's own tissues.

No one knows what causes rheumatoid arthritis. Genes, environment, and hormones might contribute. Treatments include medicine, lifestyle changes, and surgery. These can slow or stop joint damage and reduce pain and swelling.

NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in
  • (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

Diagnosis and Tests

Treatments and Therapies

  • (American College of Rheumatology) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Living With

  • (American Occupational Therapy Association) - PDF
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in

Related Issues

  • (American College of Rheumatology) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

Specifics

  • (American Society for Surgery of the Hand)
  • (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons) Also in
  • (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
  • (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society)

Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Videos and Tutorials

  • Video (Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Statistics and Research

  • (Arthritis Foundation) - PDF
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • (Arthritis Foundation) - PDF

Find an Expert

  • (Arthritis Foundation)
  • (American College of Rheumatology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in

Women

  • (American College of Rheumatology) Also in

Patient Handouts