Is RA a Progressive Disease?

Ask a Doctor

My mom was just diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She’s only 60 and loves to garden, bicycle and do improvements and renovations around her house. I would hate to see RA symptoms stop mom from fully enjoying life. Maybe she can take medication and cure it, or at least stop her arthritis from getting worse. Is rheumatoid arthritis a progressive disease?

Doctor’s Response

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms affect the joints and cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. RA can also affect other tissues in the body. For some people, RA can be progressive.

The course of RA can vary. Symptoms may go away for a time (go into remission), symptoms may worsen, symptoms may come and go, flares may become more frequent or prolonged, or symptoms may remain consistent. There is no way to predict how a particular person’s disease will progress.

The progression of RA can be managed. Early diagnosis and treatment is key in reducing symptoms and slowing joint damage.

For more information, read our full medical article on rheumatoid arthritis.

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References
Jennifer Freeman, MD. RA Progression: What are the Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis Progression? 27 October 2018. Rhwumatoid Arthritis Support Network. 2 January 2019 .

Maini, BA, MB BChir, FRCP, FMedSci, Ravinder N and PJW Venables, MA, MB BChir, MD, FRCP. Patient education: Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and diagnosis (Beyond the Basics). 23 March 2017. 2 January 2019 .