Published on October 26, 2023
Authored by Pfizer Medical Affairs
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes pain and inflammation in your joints
It commonly affects the hands, knees and feet
There’s no cure, but it can be managed and damage to your joints can be reduced with early and ongoing treatment
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that results from a malfunctioning immune system.
Your immune system is designed to identify foreign bodies (e.g. bacteria and viruses) and attack them to keep you healthy. However in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in and around your joints causing ongoing inflammation and pain.
The most common symptoms of RA include:
Less common symptoms may include weight loss, inflammation of other body parts (e.g. lungs, eyes) or rheumatoid nodules (fleshy lumps below the elbows or on hands or feet).
Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but usually appears between the ages of 30 to 60. It affects women more often than men.
The course and severity of RA varies from person to person. Symptoms may change from day to day.
At times your symptoms (e.g. pain, fatigue, inflammation) can become more intense. This is a flare. Flares are unpredictable and can seem to come out of nowhere.
Your doctor or specialist may prescribe a number of different medications depending on your symptoms and the severity of your condition.
Some of the medications you may take include:
Depending on your particular symptoms, and how much pain and inflammation you have, you may take one medication or a combination of different medications.
There are other things you can do to manage your RA:
This information is adapted from Musculoskeletal Australia (MSK) with their permission.
MSK is a consumer organisation supporting people with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, and back pain. To access their free Help Line, webinars and other services, call MSK weekdays on 1800 263 265, email [email protected] or visit msk.org.au