Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that causes the lining of your joints or other body areas to become inflamed. As it progresses, it further damages the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone in your joints. It may also damage other areas of the body, including the lungs or blood vessels.
About 1% of the Canadian population has RA, with women about 3 times more likely than men to get it. Although it can occur at all ages, people most often develop RA between the ages of 40 and 60 years.
It was thought that children get RA (called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or JRA), but it is now recognized to be a different set of diseases, collectively called juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
RA is a serious, usually progressive disease that can lead to severe disability, reduced quality of life, and shorter lifespan. Fortunately, treatment and management strategies developed over the last 40 years have led to much improved lives, longevity, and outcomes for many RA patients.
There is currently no cure for RA.