Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a condition where your immune system mistakenly targets and attacks your own body (commonly known as an autoimmune condition). In RA, the immune system commonly targets the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage.
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.
More research is being done to understand the causes of RA. The following factors may increase your risk of developing RA.
Firstly, make sure you have an accurate diagnosis. It is best to visit your general practitioner (GP) first, to get appropriate tests and to come up with a treatment plan. If your doctor suspects that you have RA, you will be urgently 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: