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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term (chronic) disease that causes inflammation in the joints. RA may start slowly. It most often affects the small joints of the hands and feet. Usually, the same joints are affected on both sides of the body. Inflammation from RA can also affect other parts of the body, including the heart, eyes, or lungs.
There is no cure for RA, but medicines can help your symptoms and stop or slow down the progression of the disease.
RA is an autoimmune disease. When you have an autoimmune disease, your body's defense system (immune system) mistakenly attacks healthy body tissues. The exact cause of RA is not known.
Symptoms of this condition usually start gradually. They are often worse in the morning. The first symptom may be morning stiffness that lasts longer than 30 minutes.
This condition is diagnosed based on your symptoms, medical history, and a physical exam. You may have X-rays or an MRI to check for the type of joint changes that are caused by RA.
Your health care provider will work with you to identify the best treatment option for you based on assessment of the overall disease activity in your body.
Managing pain, stiffness, and swelling
This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.
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