What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and swelling of the joints. The normal role of your body’s immune system is to fight off infections to keep you healthy. In an autoimmune disease, your immune system starts attacking your own healthy tissues. In RA, the immune system targets the lining of the joints, causing inflammation and joint damage. RA usually affects smaller joints, such as the joints in the hands and feet. However larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of RA vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are: • joint pain, swelling, and tenderness to touch • stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning • symmetrical (the same joints on both sides of the body are affected).
What causes it?
It is not known what causes RA. It is more common in people who smoke and/or have a family history of RA.
For more information about Rheumatoid Arthritis, download the info sheet.