Rheumatoid arthritis

What is it?

Rheumatoid arthritis, one of the most common forms of inflammatory arthritis, occurs from an abnormal response from the immune system resulting in immune cells attacking the joints. Timely, effective treatment is essential to prevent permanent damage to joints.


  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Joint stiffness in morning
  • Fatigue
  • Cough and difficulty breathing if the lungs are affected

Risk factors

  • Family history and genetics
  • Smoking
  • More common in females

Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis

  • Complete medical history and physical exam
  • Laboratory testing
  • Imaging (X-ray or MRI)

    Treating rheumatoid arthritis

    • Proper treatment can improve joint symptoms and protect the joints from permanent damage
    • Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
    • Biologic medications: Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNF-i), Interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors, oral Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors
    • Physical therapy
    • Joint injections and surgery in some cases

    Find a rheumatologist