What is rheumatoid disease?

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

The most common symptom is swollen painful joints. Some patients describe rheumatoid pain as like joints 'being on fire' or 'pulled apart'.

Rheumatoid disease is also called rheumatoid arthritis. We say 'rheumatoid disease' because arthritis means 'swollen joints', and this is only one symptom. 

Other symptoms include fatigue (imagine the feeling when you go down with a bout of the flu) and brain fog.

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

The disease mostly affects women over 40, but can be diagnosed in men too, and at all ages including babies and children.

If you think that you might have rheumatoid disease you must visit your doctor immediately. 

Your doctor will examine your joints for swelling, and may give you a blood test as part of the diagnosis process. 

Treating rheumatoid involves slowing disease progression using medications like NSAIDs, DMARDs, steroids and biologics.

There is no cure for rheumatoid disease so it is important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Your rheumatologist can explain your treatment options to you, and you can find more information on the Arthritis Foundation website.  

Receiving a diagnosis of rheumatoid disease can feel overwhelming. It helps to connect with other people who have been through the same experience. 

For all women who are dealing with rheumatoid disease, the Women with Rheumatoid Disease community is a great online group to get information, tips and support.