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Swollen joints, stiffness and pain? These are the signs of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition where the body’s defence system attacks the joints causing them to be inflamed and painful.

The disease can cause serious disability if it is not caught early.

How to spot rheumatoid arthritis

You should visit your doctor if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:

It can also cause excessive tiredness.

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of any age, although it is more common in people over 40, and women more than men. Children and young adults can be affected too. If young people have the above symptoms, seek advice from their doctor.

These symptoms may not be caused by arthritis, for example, they may be the result of a physical activity injury – but it is still important to get them checked out.

Read more about the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.  

See your doctor early

It is important to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis early so that treatment can prevent more serious damage to the joints. If you have the above symptoms, visit your doctor. The earlier rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

About your visit to your doctor

Your doctor will assess your symptoms and may send you for a blood test or refer you to a local hospital for other tests.

Other types of arthritis

Most people with arthritis have osteoarthritis, a more common form of arthritis that happens gradually as people get older. It can be difficult to know whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, so consult your doctor. Doctors can also provide advice about managing osteoarthritis.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, modern drugs can stop the progression of the condition and enable people to manage their symptoms effectively. You can also make lifestyle changes to help improve the condition.

Read more about how rheumatoid arthritis is treated.


                        This content is managed by Public Health England.


Page last reviewed: 02/02/2015

Next review due: 02/02/2017

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