Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that causes inflammation around the body and commonly presents pain in the joints. Untreated, RA can cause severe damage to the joints and their surrounding tissue. It can lead to heart, lung or nervous system problems.


Signs and symptoms

Rheumatoid Arthritis causes inflammation and pain in one or more joints. It can happen in most joints, but it’s most common in the small joints of the hands, wrists and feet. Arthritis is chronic and may worsen over time without treatment. It can lead to severe damage to the joint and surrounding tissue. It can also affect the heart, lung and nervous systems.


Early signs and symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling or redness in one or more joints, usually in a symmetrical pattern (e.g., both hands or both feet).

The symptoms can worsen over time and spread to more joints including the knees, elbows or shoulders. RA can make it hard to perform daily activities like writing, holding objects with the hands, walking and climbing stairs. People with RA often feel fatigue and general malaise (e.g., fever, poor sleep quality, loss of appetite) and may experience depressive symptoms.


Treatment and management

Rheumatoid arthritis is not curable. Management of rheumatoid arthritis often involves different health workers, who contribute to a rehabilitative strategy tailored to a person’s needs and preferences.

Early diagnosis and management can reduce symptoms, slow the disease and prevent disability. In some cases, the disease can go into remission.

Therapeutic approaches help to improve and maintain joint mobility and muscle strength, to reduce and cope with pain, and to increase exercise capacity and the ability to perform daily activities.

SAMWUMED has a Chronic Disease Management Programme that is purposely there to help our members and their dependents who suffer from chronic illnesses to receive their chronic medication uninterrupted. For more information on the programme visit our website: www.samwumed.org


Sources: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/rheumatoid-arthritis