Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system is attacking healthy tissue in your body – in this case the lining of the joints.
Overview and SymptomsRheumatoid arthritis causes painful swelling that can lead to the bones eroding and joints becoming deformed. Inflammation can also damage other parts of the body such as the heart and blood vessels, eyes, skin, and lungs.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis; better outcomes are achieved when it is diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Treatments available include:
- Medications such as over-the-counter or prescription-strength nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, short-term corticosteroid medications, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and a newer form of DMARDs that target the parts of the immune system causing inflammation
- Physical therapy and occupational therapy
- Surgery to relieve pain and repair or replace damaged joints