Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints. It typically results in warm, swollen, and painful joints.
Inflammation of the lining of the joints (the synovium) causes joint damage, which can lead to deformity and loss of function.
RA also can affect other tissues throughout the body, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. RA affects women three times more often than men.
RA is a systemic disease, meaning it can affect the entire body. The cause of RA is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
There is no cure for RA, but treatments are available to help relieve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.
If you have RA, you may be treated by a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Treatment for RA typically includes a combination of medication, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy. Medications used to treat RA include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic agents.
DMARDs slow the progression of RA by reducing inflammation and joint damage. Biologic agents are a type of DMARD that targets specific proteins involved in the immune response.