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What is the prognosis for patients with rheumatoid arthritis?

With early, aggressive treatment, the outlook for those affected by rheumatoid arthritis can be very good. The overall attitude regarding ability to control the disease has changed tremendously since the turn of the century. Doctors now strive to eradicate any signs of active disease while preventing flare-ups. The disease can be controlled and a cooperative effort by the doctor and patient can lead to optimal health.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes disability and can increase mortality and decrease life expectancy to lead to an early death. Patients have a less favorable outlook when they have deformity, disability, ongoing uncontrolled joint inflammation, and/or rheumatoid disease affecting other organs of the body. Overall, rheumatoid arthritis tends to be potentially more damaging when rheumatoid factor or citrulline antibody is demonstrated by blood testing. Life expectancy improves with earlier treatment and monitoring.

Finally, minimizing emotional stress can help improve the overall health in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Support and extracurricular groups provide those with rheumatoid arthritis time to discuss their problems with others and learn more about their illness.

Return to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

See what others are saying

Comment from: imlivingwithra, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 11

What an odd question for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients! Prognosis to me would indicate that there is a chance for recovery. Any RA patient knows that there is not a cure for RA. The best that we can hope for is to manage our symptoms effectively and to minimize our flare-ups and pain. We also learn to live an altered lifestyle from what we have lived before. My new motto is to 'lose the guilt.' Guilt over not being able to do the things that you could formerly do. Guilt over not feeling good. Guilt over feeling tired. I am 58 years of age. I was planning on retiring at age 62. I now live month-to-month with no long range retirement goals as it may be next month that I decide that I can no longer work. It could be another two or four years. I don't know because each day is an RA challenge for me.

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Comment from: r1cochet, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 24

My rheumatologist has never really given me a prognosis, but from all of the research I've done and the unrelenting fatigue, I'd say 8 more years of struggling to stay employed followed by a hermit's retirement, even though that the last thing I look forward to.

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Comment from: joanne, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 06

A new kind of normal is the best I can hope for after suffering through the gamut of all the medications offered for rheumatoid arthritis. I am fortunate to live in Australia where the government funds the expensive biologicals so I am reasonably mobile. I have found resting and giving up work the only way I could survive this horrendous disease after suffering 10 years of pushing it up hill. I stay at home all the time and sleep and rest as much as I can and go out to appointments only when necessary. I have changed from an extravert to an introvert.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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