Rheumatoid Arthritis – At a Glance

Table of Content

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Normal Joint


Immune System, Antigen, Antibody

RA is a disease of the immune system

Immune system - Body's defense against foreign bodies. It is made up of special cells (White Blood Cells/ WBCs) that defend the body against infectious foreign materials.

Antigen (Ag) - An antigen is any foreign body, e.g., bacteria, virus, that harms your body

Antibody (Ab) - Antibodies (immunoglobulins), are proteins found in body that neutralize the foreign bodies /Ag

Antigen - Antibody complex - When this complex is formed, the Ag is neutralized.

Autoimmune diseases - (Auto = Self; immunity) Body's defense system considers body's own cells as foreign & attacks them.

RA is an autoimmune disease

The immune cells attack the joints, causing pain & inflammation.

Inflammation- A response of body tissues to injury or irritation. The 5 symptoms of inflammation are:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • Loss of function in the injured area

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Chronic (of long duration)
  • Symmetrical (joints on both sides of the body are affected)

  • Autoimmune
  • Systemic (affects other organs)
  • Inflammatory disease affecting the joints


RA is generally seen in small joints, e.g., hands, feet but then progresses to larger joints like knee, elbow, shoulder.

Symptoms include -

  • Morning stiffness in & around the joint

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of appetite

  • Rheumatoid nodules - Small bumps under the skin, usually not painful







NSAIDs - Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs:  Relieve pain & inflammation, e.g. ibuprofen, celecoxib

DMARDs - Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs: Slow down the disease process of RA, provide relieve of symptoms.

Kindly consult your doctor before taking any medications

Self Care

  • Exercise regularly
  • Weight control
  • Healthy diet
  • Apply heat or cold for occasional flare up
  • Regular medications


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