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Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common conditions that results in long-term disability. This autoimmune condition affects the lining of the joints, causing painful inflammation, joint damage and loss of mobility.

Review the signs of RA if you or a loved one has experienced unexplained joint stiffness or pain.

Unique symptoms of RA

More than 100 types of arthritis cause joint pain, stiffness, swelling and deformity. RA has distinctive characteristics that help doctors diagnose this disease. With RA, symptoms tend to affect the same joint on both sides of the body (the left and right wrist, for example).

Most people who have RA experience symptoms that worsen, then resolve before returning. Because RA is a chronic condition, doctors do not have a cure. However, treatments can help reduce the recurrence of symptoms, called exacerbation.

Risk factors for RA

While many forms of arthritis occur with age, RA can affect anyone. However, the disease most often occurs in adults in their 60s. Women are 200% to 300% times more likely to develop RA than men according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. RA is also more common among people who are obese, who smoke, who have never given birth or who have other family members with RA.

If you cannot work because of an RA diagnosis, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Social Security Administration may approve your application if your doctor says you cannot work and you have difficulty walking or completing tasks with your arms. The agency will also look at related symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue and malaise.