What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body attacks healthy tissue. It is a systemic inflammatory disease, which shows up in multiple joints. RA affects joint lining, and occasionally organs. Inflamed joint linings erode cartilage and bone, and cause deformity in your joints.
The classifications of RA, from most common to lease, are:
Progressive: in which the disease continues to worsen, without pause.
Polycyclic: in which RA activity levels occur in cycles, and change over time.
Monocyclic: in which there is only one episode of RA, which typically ends within 2-5 years.
Why Should You Care?
RA is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, affective approximately 1% of the U.S. population
Although we haven't identified the exact reason for RA, it is thought to be due to a faulty immune response in your body.
There is no known cure for RA, but it can be managed. Ideal diagnosis and aggressive treatment work best when started within six weeks from onset
Best treatments appear to be a combination of biological agents (like DMARDs) and methotrexate
The CDC has more detailed information on RA