Rheumatoid Arthritis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder ( in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body tissues.) which is characterized by pain, stiffness, swelling, limited motion and function of joints. It mostly affects the small joints especially in hands and feet.
It usually begins after age 40 but then it can occur at any age. The disorder is much more common in women than in men.

RA Overview

Recovery Time

A person cannot be cured from rheumatoid arthritis but can get relieved from the symptoms. By taking prescribed medicines a patient enters in to remission that is, have no signs of active disease. This may occur within few months of medication.


Diagnosis is done by taking the medical history of the patient and then the physical examination of symptoms. Other diagnostic parameters include
Blood tests like cylic citrulline antibody test(anti-CCP), to determine the antibodies
X-rays to determine bone loss at the edges of joints
MRI and ultrasound scanning to determine the severity of the disease
Other tests like RA factor, Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, Antinuclear antibodies tests may also be done.

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.What is Rheumatoid arthritis?
RA is the inflammation of the joints usually the small joints of the fingers and toes.

Q2.What causes RA?
RA is caused by the injury to the joint cartilages by antibodies which have been directed mistakenly towards the cartilages.

Q3.What are the tests to diagnose RA?
Blood RA factor, ESR and X-ray of the involved joints are helpful in diagnosing RA. Specialized tests may be required if doubtful.

Q4.What is the treatment for RA?
Strong analgesics, anti-inflammatory medication, DMARDs and immunosuppressant are the mainstay for the treatment of RA.

Q5.How long does it take to cure?
RA cannot be cured. The medications only slow the progression of disease and improve the quality of life by reducing pain.

Q6.How do I prevent Rheumatoid arthritis?
We cannot prevent RA. It has to be diagnosed at the earliest and treated to prevent progression and improve the quality of life. If untreated it can cause severe deformity of joints

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