Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the immune system – which normally defends your body from bacteria, viruses and damaged cells in the body – attacks healthy joints. It is not due to “wear and tear”.
RA results in inflammation of multiple joints, resulting in pain, stiffness and swelling. RA tends to affect small joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles and toes. In some patients, it may also affect other organs such as the lungs, eyes, skin and heart.
If left untreated, the inflammation can lead to significant joint deformity and loss of function.
Whilst RA can happen at any age, it most commonly occurs between the age of 25 and 40. It affects women more commonly than men.