Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes painful, swollen joints. This happens most often in the hand, wrist, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Early treatment of RA is very important. Otherwise, the swelling, deformity, and pain in your joints can get worse.

Medicines can help prevent damage to your joints. They are called disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). They can also prevent RA from getting worse and causing problems with your ability to do everyday activities. Examples of DMARDs used for RA are methotrexate and the biologic drugs etanercept and adalimumab.

RA can affect other parts of your body, too. It can affect your heart, lungs, and eyes. You also have a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to people who don’t have RA. Other diseases are more common in people with RA. These include interstitial lung disease, rheumatoid nodules, osteoporosis, and anemia. Your doctor can help you lower your chances of these other diseases.

Keep your RA in check. Visit your doctor regularly. Follow the treatment plan and take your medicine as directed. Let your doctor know how you feel and if you have new symptoms or concerns.

Early and steady treatment for RA can help keep problems at bay!