What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness and swelling. These symptoms commonly affect the hands, wrists, elbows, feet, knees and ankles.

According to Arthritis Research UK, around 400,000 adults suffer with rheumatoid arthritis in the UK with approximately 20,000 new cases every year.

What is an autoimmune disease?

An autoimmune disease is where your immune system, which usually fights against infections, mistakenly attacks its own tissues. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis it attacks the cells that line your joints.

According to the NHS, the trigger of the problem with the immune system is not yet clear but you are at an increased risk if you are a women, have family history of rheumatoid arthritis and you are a smoker.

What treatment is available?

Unfortunately, there is no cure but the correct treatment can slow the condition down and relieve pain, allowing people with rheumatoid arthritis to live fuller lives.

Options include:

  • Medication (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs – methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine)
  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • Possible surgery and joint replacement
  • Lifestyle changes

If you do have symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis then you should see your GP, who might carry out a physical examination to check and assess your joints for swelling and movement. Your GP may even arrange blood tests, x-rays or refer you to a specialist, (rheumatologist).

The service we offer here, at General & Medical, is centred around choice and convenience meaning appointments can be made at your chosen hospital within days of your GP referring you. Also, when you take out a health insurance policy with us you can add pre-existing conditions to the cover, including arthritis. Why not get your free quote today, to see how little it could cost you? Click the link below.

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About the author

Paige Harrison, is our brilliant Content Marketing Executive here at General & Medical.