Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that causes pain, swelling and inflammation in the joints. Initially, the joints of the hands and feet are affected, but any joint may later become affected. Rheumatoid arthritis can make your joints feel stiff and can leave you feeling generally unwell and tired.
The condition affects approximately 350,000 people in the UK and occurs more frequently in women than men. It is most common after the age of 40, but it can affect people of any age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Your immune system, which usually fights infection, attacks the lining of your joints, causing them to become inflamed. Over time your joints may become permanently damaged and stop working properly.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis usually come and go. Sometimes symptoms only cause mild discomfort, but other times they can be very painful, making it difficult to move around and do everyday tasks. When symptoms become worse, this is known as a flare-up. A flare-up is impossible to predict, making rheumatoid arthritis difficult to live with.
At present there is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, with early diagnosis and treatment symptoms can be eased and the progression of the condition can be slowed down.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis tend to develop gradually, with the first symptoms often being felt in small joints, such as your fingers and toes.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis often tend to come and go and you will experience what are known as 'flare ups'. This means that from time to time, your condition will worsen and your symptoms will be more intense and severe. You can experience a flare-up at any time of the day or night. However, it is likely that your symptoms will be more painful in the morning, when you first wake up. Usually, your symptoms will begin to ease as the day progresses, as you start using and flexing your joints.
Once rheumatoid arthritis progresses, it can spread to other joints, such as your shoulders, elbows, hips and jaw. The condition tends to affect several joints at the same time, usually on both sides of your body. For example, it often affects both knees or both hands.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are outlined below.
  • Joint pain and swelling - this is usually worst in the morning and tends to improve as you move around.




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