A Guide To Rheumatoid Arthritis

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What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of vulnerable tissues. It is most associated with joint pain and inflammation, but can affect other parts of the body. These include the skin, eyes, blood vessels, and vital organs including the heart.

What Conditions Are Associated With Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is among the most severe of a number of arthritis conditions. Arthritis is extremely common, affecting more than 3 million people in the United States each year. Risk increases with age and symptoms tend to worsen over time.

Wear and tear, underlying conditions, and viral or bacterial infections can all contribute to arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis in particular is associated with a faulty autoimmune response. This causes the immune system to attack the joint linings.

A rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis depends on distinguishing it from other forms of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are unique because of symmetry: They affect joints on both sides of the body. This can include both hands, both knees, and so on.

Other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include:

  • Stiffness, swelling, pain, redness, or warmth in symmetrical joints of the body
  • Muscle aches
  • Reduced appetite
  • Fatigue and/or malaise (a “bad all over” feeling)
  • Depression

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Recovery and Lifestyle Changes

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition. Once diagnosed, it persists for life. Patients experience different symptoms based on what joints are affected and how the disease progresses. Progression of symptoms can be very fast, very slow, or in between.

Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers should remain under a doctor’s care and be tested for complications of the disease on a regular basis. Most rheumatoid arthritis patients will be tested for signs of anemia and put on appropriate supplementation if iron levels are low.

Over time, potential rheumatoid arthritis complications include:

  • Rheumatoid nodules – small, painless bumps under the skin
  • Inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleurisy) leading to shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis)
  • Inflammation of the heart muscle itself (myocarditis)
  • Eye health problems including dry eye, cataracts, and scleritis

It is rare, but possible, for rheumatoid arthritis to affect other vital organs like the liver and kidneys. Bone health can be endangered by certain treatments. Rheumatoid arthritis treatment typically includes a mix of anti-inflammatory and immune suppressant drugs.

Current Rheumatoid Arthritis Research

Rheumatoid arthritis is part of a mysterious class of conditions characterized by an overactive immune system that attacks the body. New treatments for rheumatoid arthritis focus on the immune response. Hindering the response or making it more selective may lead to a cure for RA. The latest rheumatoid arthritis research has also identified genetic factors that play a role.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical Trials

This list of the latest rheumatoid arthritis clinical studies includes all RA clinical studies on file at ClinicalTrials.gov. If you have other rheumatoid arthritis clinical trials to share on our site, contact our team.

Why Are More Rheumatoid Arthritis Clinical Studies Necessary?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease with no known cure. Autoimmune disorders like lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Type I diabetes all share certain similar mechanisms, so rheumatoid arthritis research may help these as well. To advance the studies of all these disorders, more rheumatoid arthritis clinical studies are needed.


With 70 million sufferers in the U.S., arthritis disorders are among the most pervasive in the nation and the leading cause of disability. Rheumatoid arthritis clinical studies are crucial for providing clinical resources for rheumatoid arthritis that may reduce the burden of this difficult disease. Through more clinical research, a rheumatoid arthritis cure is possible.

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