Rheumatoid arthritis is an immune condition that causes pain, inflammation, stiffness and loss of mobility in the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the many types of arthritis including RA represent the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Review the risk factors if you or a family member has developed the signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
Controllable risk factors
You can change a few risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis. These include:
- Being overweight or obese, especially for women younger than 55
- Smoking cigarettes
Losing weight and quitting smoking can reduce the risk of developing RA.
Static risk factors
You cannot control many of the risk factors of RA. Static risk factors include:
- Childhood exposure to secondhand smoke
- Exposure to silica or asbestos in the workplace
- Never giving birth
- Genetic makeup and family history of RA
- Gender, with women at double to triple the risk of developing RA compared to the risk for men
- Age, with the highest risk around age 60
The CDC says that about half of individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis become permanently disabled within 10 years of the diagnosis. If you cannot work because of joint pain, talk to your health care provider about your physical limitations. He or she can determine whether RA is the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor can also make a recommendation about whether you can safely work with your RA symptoms. He or she may recommend that you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance if you cannot do your job anymore because of this chronic condition.