What is Rheumatoid Disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis)? Symptoms and treatments

What is Rheumatoid Disease

Rheumatoid Disease, also known as Rheumatoid Arthritis, RD and RA, is a systemic autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the body.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include painful and swollen joints, fatigue and brain fog. 

Symptoms often first appear in the hands with inflamed finger joints. Over time, fingers can become misshapen and bent, due to a process called ulnar drift. Nodules may appear too.

Left untreated RD can destroy joint tissue and erode bone. RD can also affect internal organs including the heart and lungs.

How is it treated?

It is important to see a doctor immediately if you suspect you might have RD. A blood test helps to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

There is currently no cure for RD so treatments aim to slow the progression of the disease. Medications include DMARD and biologic drugs, and steroids.

You can ease pain and inflammation yourself by using warm or cold compresses. Some people find that diet can improve symptoms.

If you have rheumatoid disease (also known as rheumatoid arthritis) you can find support via the Arthritis Foundation in the USA, Versus Arthritis in the UK, and in the Women with Rheumatoid Disease community.

Sarah Dillingham, Founder Grace & Able

Sarah Dillingham has rheumatoid disease (aka rheumatoid arthritis). She started Grace & Able when she couldn't find a wrist brace to wear on her wedding day.

Sarah runs the Living with Hand Pain community, and Women with Rheumatoid Disease community.