Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

When someone is diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is a chemical change in the synovial membrane that causes them to become thickened and inflamed. Due to the variations in the synovial membrane, too much synovial fluid is produced. The symptoms of RA include chronic inflammation, cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. In general, RA affects three times more women than men*, and it might affect other organs, including the skin and heart.**



Who does RA affect?

RA affects more than two million people in the United States. 2 The effects of RA might impact you at any age, and women have a higher chance of being diagnosed. According to research, women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with RA. 3

What are the symptoms of RA?

RA, a disease that causes chronic pain, and doctors have classified the progression of the disease into three categories.

The first stage is swelling and pain in the joint, the second stage is thickening of the joint lining, and the final stage is permanent joint damage caused by enzymes attacking your bones and cartilage. 3, 4

Other symptoms of RA might include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, fever, loss of appetite, depression, and rheumatoid nodules under the skin. 1, 5

If left untreated, RA your activity level will diminish, and in addition to the loss of energy, the joint damage could cause you to lose the ability to move individual joints.

To offer a proper diagnosis and to prevent health issues, contact your doctor to see what options are available to you.


  1. Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Overview. Accessed February 5, 2008.
  2. Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Who Gets It? Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/disease-center.php?disease_id=31&df=whos_at_risk. Accessed November 5, 2008.
  3. Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid Arthritis: What Is It? Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/disease-center.php?disease_id=31. Accessed February 6, 2008.
  4. Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms. Accessed February 6, 2008.
  5. Haaz S. Patient Education: Counseling RA Patients about Lifestyle and Diet Changes. Arthritis Practitioner. Available at: http://www.arthritispractitioner.com/article/4602. Accessed February 4, 2008.

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