RA101: What is RA?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition affecting mainly joints, as well as the whole body.1

There are 36.8 million people living with RA around the world.
If they started their own country, it’d be more populous than Canada.1,2

RA is one of the most common chronic diseases caused by inflammation. It is different from other types of arthritis because of its symptoms, causes, and treatments:1-4

  • Symptoms include joint pain that is characteristically symmetrical
  • RA is caused by white blood cells attacking healthy cells
  • Treatments aim to control symptoms by interfering with overactive white blood cells work, not just painkillers

RA usually progresses slowly. But without appropriate management, it could eventually lead to joint damage.4

To learn more:

Risk factors



References: 1. Smolen JS, et al. Lancet 2016. Published online: May 3, 2016. 2. United Nations. World Population 2015. Available at: http://esa.un.org. Accessed on May 26, 2016. 3. Singh JA, et al. Arthritis Care Res 2015;68(1):1-25. 4. UpToDate. Patient information: Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and diagnosis (beyond the basics). Available at http://www.uptodate.com. Accessed on May 05, 2016.

Last updated: September 17, 2016.
Photo adapted from original by Simon Blackley, used under license.

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