What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder affecting joints and other tissues.  It is seen in up to 1% of the population. RA is more common in women than men.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the joint tissues become inflamed, and the spread of this inflammation ultimately is responsible for creating an abnormal layer of fibrous vascular tissue, or pannus, that invades and damages bone, cartilage and ligament.

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are generally more prone to infection, and developing one or more of a wide variety of secondary diseases and conditions either related to or the result of joint inflammation.

  • RA is chronic, meaning it is persistent and long-lasting; however, with proper treatment, achieving good disease control and possibly remission is attainable.
  • RA is systemic, meaning it affects the whole body, and sometimes can lead to a number of secondary conditions and diseases.

There is no known cure for rheumatoid arthritis; however, with early aggressive treatment and disease management, patients can often lead normal active and productive lives.

Learn more about RA in this section - scroll down or click a topic at left.