Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition where your immune system mistakenly targets your own body. This causes the lining of your joints to become inflamed.
Symptoms can include painful, swollen, stiff, warm, and tender joints. People with RA often notice changes in symptoms over time, with ‘flare-ups’ followed by periods of decreased inflammation.
Because RA is a systemic disease, or a disease that targets your whole body, many of your joints and other organs can be affected.
What causes RA?
More research is being done to understand the causes of RA.The following factors may increase your risk of developing RA.
- Having an infection. There is some evidence to suggest that RA can be triggered by some infections and viruses. However, you cannot ‘catch’ RA from another person.
- Gender – females are more likely to have RA
What can I do to manage my RA?
Firstly, make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. It is best to visit your general practitioner (doctor) first, to get appropriate tests and to come up with a treatment plan. If your doctor suspects that you have RA, you will be referred to a rheumatologist (arthritis specialist) for treatment and advice.
The best approach to treatment is a team approach.
You are the most important member of your healthcare team. Your team may also involve:
- Your doctor
- Specialists (such as rheumatologists and orthopaedic specialists)
- Allied health professionals (such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists)
- Community organisations that may assist you physically or mentally
- Your friends and family who support you.
At Arthritis Queensland, we provide a range of services that support you to manage your RA.
- Ring our infoline! Our experienced health educators can give you advice and link you to resources in your area.
- Download our booklets and information sheets.
- Join a course or seminar.
- Join Swell Gals, our online forum