of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects an estimated 1.3 million adults in the United States.1 The condition can have a profound effect on many aspects of daily life, and is often poorly understood by those who do not have direct experience it. The good news is that important advances have been made in the management of RA: use of more effective drugs earlier in the course of RA reduces symptoms and joint damage, and allows some patients to achieve a remission (little or no active disease).2

The course of RA over a lifetime varies across individuals and is also influenced by treatment. Some people may experience a single episode that resolves within a few months or years, others may experience fluctuating symptoms (periods of few symptoms followed by periods of worse symptoms, or “flares”), and still others may have symptoms that get progressively worse.

Although there is no cure for RA, early detection and effective treatment can substantially reduce pain and disability for many individuals.

Next: Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis


1 Helmick CG, Felson DT, Lawrence RC et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States. Part I. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2008;58:15-25.

2 Felson DT, Smolen JS, Wells G et al. American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism provisional definition of remission in rheumatoid arthritis for clinical trials. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2011;63:573-586.