10 Things to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis

iStock 000016392553Small 300x199 10 Things to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis PhotoRheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder in which a  person’s immune system attacks its own body’s tissues. As there are more than 100 types of arthritis, there can be misunderstanding about each.

Here are 10 things to know about rheumatoid arthritis:

  1. About 1.5 million americans suffer from RA.
  2. Women are affected more often than men; nearly three times as many women have RA.
  3. While RA is most common in older adults, children and young adults can develop it too.
  4. Symptoms of RA include warm, sore, swollen joints, joint stiffness after activity or first thing in the morning, fatigue, fever and weight loss.
  5. RA also affects parts of the body other than the joints. About 40 percent of people will have symptoms that affect their skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys and other parts of their body.
  6. RA typically affects people’s hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.
  7. While the cause of rheumatoid arthritis isn’t know, specific genetic markers that increase one’s chance of developing it have been identified.
  8. Risk factors for RA include a family history, smoking, obesity and exposure to certain environmental agents such as asbestos.
  9. There is no cure for RA, but there are a variety of medications as well as surgery options for sufferers in addition to lifestyle changes that can help alleviate symptoms.
  10. Early treatment of RA leads to better long-term quality of life, and some research suggests it can stop RA from progressing.

Find out more about the diagnosis and treatment of RA, as well the questions to ask your doctors with our care guide.