Skip main navigation
Walgreens Walgreens Logo
Logo Walgreens Logo
start main content

Menu

Question

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Answer

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that causes painful swelling, redness, and stiffness of the joints. This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body's immune system attacks its own tissues-the joints in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. It's unclear what initiates this inflammatory process.

The distinguishing feature of rheumatoid arthritis is symmetric joint inflammation. The joints on both sides of the body become inflamed (such as both wrists or both knees). The symmetric nature of the inflammation is one of the factors doctors use to differentiate rheumatoid arthritis from the other forms of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men and usually first appears between ages 25 and 50. Joints of the hands and feet are most commonly affected first; typically, the same joints on both sides of the body are affected. Joints can become enlarged and deformed, and freeze into one position. Most people respond to treatment, but the disease can cause serious and permanent disability.

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, some drugs can ease its symptoms while others can slow the course of disease. Most people require prescription medicines, but some people may try over-the-counter or herbal products. Occupational and physical therapy can also help.

Back to Ask a Pharmacist

DISCLAIMER:

Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a Walgreens.com pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

Your Digital Health Advisor. Powered by WebMD. Manage diabetes with this easy online tool.* Get started.
Your Digital Health Advisor. Powered by WebMD. Manage diabetes with this easy online tool.* Get started.

Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices

20 Points
20 Points

Now you can track your blood pressure and blood glucose.

Start earning points Go Arrow

omnitureLink1