Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment

Is there a cure for RA?

No, rheumatoid arthritis is not a curable disease at this time. As the science of genetics and disease as well as autoimmunity evolve, it is very likely that cures for rheumatoid arthritis will become available.

What are tips for living with rheumatoid arthritis?

  • Early and aggressive treatment tends to result in optimal outcome.
  • Understand how your rheumatoid arthritis, as well as the effects and side effects of its treatment, will be monitored.
  • Maintain a working relationship with your treating physician. Consider consulting with a rheumatologist.
  • Have a game plan for addressing flare-ups of the rheumatoid inflammation.
  • Preplan your treatment options for travel with your physician.
  • Review with your physician any concerns about your rheumatoid arthritis, its influence on your lifestyle activities, your avocations, and your long-term life goals.

Is it possible to prevent rheumatoid arthritis?

Currently, there is no specific prevention of rheumatoid arthritis. Because cigarette smoking, exposure to silica mineral, and chronic periodontal disease all increase the risk for rheumatoid arthritis, these conditions should be avoided.

What specialists treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

The primary specialist for diagnosing, managing, and monitoring rheumatoid arthritis is a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist works together with the primary doctor and other specialists to maximize health outcomes and minimize comorbid health conditions. Other specialists that can be involved in the care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis include physiatrists, dermatologists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, radiologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, orthopedists, and general surgeons. Ancillary health-care providers who can be involved in the care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis include physical therapists, occupational therapists, and massage therapists.

What new information about RA has come from the 2015 national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology?

There are many new biologic treatments for rheumatoid arthritis on the near horizon. Many of these are being studied with and without simultaneous methotrexate. Some block chemical messengers and some block specific cell types of inflammation.

The significant benefit of treating lipid/cholesterol profiles in patients with rheumatoid arthritis to improve long-term risks of stroke and heart attack was emphasized.

Diets that were higher in fish, grains, and vegetables were shown to decrease the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, while the Western diet, defined as including more processed meats increased the risk. It is not certain whether this is because of a direct anti-inflammatory effect of the fish, grains, and vegetables or because of changes in the natural bacteria in the gut.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/13/2017

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