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4 Frequently Asked Questions About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Questions About Rheumatoid Arthritis

It’s the form of autoimmune arthritis most commonly diagnosed, yet many patients still have questions about rheumatoid arthritis (RA). What are the risk factors? What are the treatment options? Keep reading to find answers for the most frequently asked RA questions.   

What Is RA? 

RA is an autoimmune disorder, which is a disorder characterized by the immune system’s response to mistakenly attacking healthy cells. This chronic condition is most often attributed to swelling within the synovium — or joint lining. RA can also contribute to the development of other chronic conditions, but the most commonly reported symptoms include:  

  • Fatigue 

  • Joint pain

  • Joint stiffness 

  • Weakness 

Are There Risk Factors for RA? 

Genetic factors, such as a family history of RA, may contribute to a patient’s risk of developing the disease. Although RA can occur in patients of all ages, genders, weight, and lifestyle habits, these factors may also increase a patient’s risk for developing RA. 

  • Age

    The chance of RA onset increases as patients age. 

  • Weight

    Overweight or obese patients are at a higher risk of developing RA. 

  • Gender

    Women are more likely to develop RA than men. 

  • Smoking

    Patients who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop RA than those who don’t. 

How Do Specialists Diagnose RA? 

Diagnosing RA is a multi-step process. There isn’t one test in particular that can confirm or rule-out the development of RA, which is why specialists diagnose the condition through:

  • Lab tests 

  • Diagnostic imaging

  • Physical examination 

  • Evaluation of a patient’s medical history  

What Are the Treatment Options for RA?

The earlier RA is discovered and diagnosed, the easier it is to manage. While there is no cure for RA, there are many conservative methods available to reduce pain and prevent severe joint damage. To treat early-onset RA or RA in its earliest stages, physicians may recommend:  

For patients with more complex or progressed cases of RA, minimally invasive arthroscopy or total joint replacement may be necessary. 

Answers to Your RA Questions and Concerns 

Patients with RA understand just how complex it can be to diagnose, treat, and manage the disease. That’s why the team of orthopaedic specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine sit down with every patient, create total treatment plans, and take the time to answer questions that encourage well-informed medical decisions. Schedule an appointment by filling out our online request form or calling 904-825-0540.


Paul Roettges, MDPaul Roettges, MD
A member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Association of Knee and Hip Surgeries, Dr. Roettges performs hip and knee replacements as well as complex unresolved hip and knee pain.