Health Matters: Rheumatoid arthritis

Old hands
According to the CDC, RA prevalence is believed to range from 0.5 to 1 percent in the general population.

Rheumatoid arthritis is just one of many forms of arthritis that affect millions of Americans every year. RA is an autoimmune disease of the joints, in which immune cells attack and eventually destroy the healthy lubricating tissues that surround joints. This causes painful swelling that can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

According to the Center for Disease Control, rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any age, although it is more common in patients over 65.

Patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis experience chronic inflammation in many or all joints, while fewer joints are affected in those with mild RA.

There is no cure for RA, but there are treatments that can decrease the severity of symptoms and slow the disease. As is the case with many ailments, the sooner a patient begins treatment, the better. That’s why it’s important to look out for arthritic symptoms such as fatigue, loss of energy, lack of appetite, low-grade fever, and muscle and joint aches and stiffness that are especially noticeable in the morning and after periods of inactivity. Talk to your physician if you experience these symptoms.

Treatment includes medication supplemented with exercise and occupational therapy.

View the entire Best Doctors article to learn more.

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