Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that can cause damage to any of your joints. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system is not working like it should and begins attacking healthy tissue.
“The goal of treatment is to delay progression of the disease and to prevent bone damage or erosion that can lead to deformities,” says Amjad Roumany, MD, rheumatologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “If not treated, rheumatoid arthritis can damage your cartilage and bone.”
While you cannot cure rheumatoid arthritis, your rheumatologist can help you develop a treatment plan so you can live an active life. Your treatment will work to reduce symptoms, slow or stop joint damage, and prevent complications. “In particular, many patients have found success with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which work to limit the effects of an overactive immune system, and biologics, which target a specific part of your immune system to reduce inflammation,” says Roumany. “Both help fight long-term damage.”