Rheumatoid arthritis, otherwise known as RA, is a chronic disease. The disease causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. This disease can lead to long-term joint damage which in turns results in chronic pain, loss of function and disability.
RA advances through three stages:
There is no cure for RA and frequent flares in disease activity occur spontaneously. RA can also begin to affect other organs in the body. However, studies have shown that early aggressive treatment of RA can limit joint damage, somewhat eliminating loss of movement, decreased ability to work, and potential surgery.
Currently, RA affects 1.3 million Americans and the cause remains unknown. However, through the use of new drugs, exercise, joint protection techniques and self-management techniques, more people are living with RA and leading happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.