Chronic Conditions

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is a term used for several types of arthritis that involve chronic (long-lasting) joint inflammation that begins before age 16. It often causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion as well as joint damage over time.

Frequently Ask Questions

PULMONARY DISEASE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PULMONARY ARTERIAL HYPERTENSION (PAH) PSORIASIS AND PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS PAIN MANAGEMENT OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA) MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS) CANCER HYPERLIPIDEMIA HUMAN IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (HIV) HEPATITIS C GROWTH HORMONE DEFICIENCY Type I and Type II Diabetes CYSTIC FIBROSIS (CF) CROHN’S DISEASE (CD) AND ULCERATIVE COLITIS (UC) Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Frequently Ask Questions

What causes RA?

Scientists still don’t know exactly what causes RA, but research has shown certain factors that may be involved:

  • Genetic factors — Certain genes passed from parent to child are known to play a role in the development of RA, although they are not the only factor.
  • Environmental factors — Some scientists believe there is something environmental (such as an infection) that may trigger a person whose genetic makeup makes them more likely to develop the condition.

How is RA treated?

The treatment goal for RA is to relieve pain, reduce swelling in the joints, slow down or stop joint damage, and help people feel better and stay active. Medications are generally taken by mouth or given as a shot and may include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — Reduce the amount of swelling and helps quickly relieve pain
  • Corticosteroids — Reduce swelling and help relieve pain over time Disease-modifying anti–rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Biologic response modifiers (biologics) — Reduce swelling, help relieve pain over time, and slow or prevent joint damage
  • Physical therapy also helps preserve joint function and may prevent deformities.