What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease causing pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in the joints. A healthy immune system protects the body by attacking foreign bacteria and viruses, but an autoimmune disease causes the body to mistakenly attack healthy tissue.

About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis.

Joints are designed to absorb shock and allow smooth movement between bones. The ends of bones are covered by elastic tissue called cartilage to support and protect it during movements. Underneath the caps is tissue called synovium, which produces synovial fluid that acts as a lubricant and nourishment to the cartilage. In people with RA, white blood cells cause inflammation in the synovium. This causes the tissue that lines the walls of the joints to thicken and become swollen and painful when moved. The uncontrollable inflammation leads to joint erosion, a loss of motion and damage to many associated parts of the body.

You and your family are not alone in the fight against Rheumatoid Arthritis

Getting a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis can be scary, but you don’t have to feel alone during this time. Care and support are available, no matter where you live or what your specific needs are.

Approximately 1.5 million Americans are living with RA. Join together and find help in your battle by learning about your treatment options or attending a support group.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can make it difficult to live a full, healthy life. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage these symptoms — from medications to lifestyle changes.

Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis are more effective than ever. Depending on your individual situation, you can find an RA medication that minimizes the pain, swelling and long-term damage of the disease.

For more information, go to:  www.rheumatoidarthritis.org