Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis where your immune system attacks the tissue lining the joints on both sides of your body. It may affect other parts of your body too. The exact cause is unknown. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutritional therapy, medication and surgery.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that is chronic (ongoing). It occurs in the joints on both sides of your body, which makes it different from other types of arthritis. You may have symptoms of pain and inflammation in your:
Uncontrolled inflammation damages cartilage, which normally acts as a “shock absorber” in your joints. In time, this can deform your joints. Eventually, your bone itself erodes. This can lead to the fusion of your joint (an effort of your body to protect itself from constant irritation).
Specific cells in your immune system (your body’s infection-fighting system) aid this process. These substances are produced in your joints but also circulate and cause symptoms throughout your body. In addition to affecting your joints, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes affects other parts of your body, including your: