Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1.3 million Americans; about 75% of those affected are women.
In RA, the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, causing joint pain, swelling, and stiffness that can be severe. The condition can result in permanent joint damage and deformity.
RA signs and symptoms include:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Involvement of multiple joints (usually in a symmetrical pattern)
- Other organ involvement such as eyes and lungs
- Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
- Lumps called rheumatoid nodules
To diagnose RA, your doctor will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. Also, X-rays and blood tests will likely be taken. One blood test may be for rheumatoid factor; it is positive in 70% to 80% of those with RA.