What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?


Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease, affects more than 1.3 million Americans.

What is RA?

Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an autoimmune disease where the body is attacking “self tissues,” beginning in the thin tissue membrane that lines joints.* Because the body’s immune system is “fighting” itself, fluid builds in the joints, often creating swelling, inflammation and significant pain throughout the body. To date, rheumatoid arthritis is not a curable disease. Rheumatoid arthritis produces chronic symptoms, meaning most of its sufferers can feel just fine for several days, weeks or months, and then experience an acutely painful “flare.” And, while some people feel the disease at work continuously, others will experience blessed “remission” for months and even years on end.

The frequency of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms vary radically from person to person (though it greatly affects women more than men). And, while arthritis research points to a combination of environmental and genetic factors that create a probability of Rheumatoid Arthritis symptom onset, there are many people in the same environment with the same genetic markers that are not at all affected. This makes it all the more difficult for researchers to hone in on specific and consistent causes behind RA.

Thankfully, early diagnosis of RA has greatly improved over recent years. In years prior, many doctors would simply diagnose arthritis, erroneously delaying specific treatments, for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Research has found, though, that RA follows a common pattern in the joints, and is more detectable through simple blood tests and X-rays as RA tends to cause bone damage, too.

There are a number of medications on today’s market that aid in both the reduction of inflammation and help modify the disease to essentially back RA into remission. While these are certainly welcome treatments, it’s our mission at The Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) to continue working for a CURE to Rheumatoid Arthritis!

What ANRF is doing for RA research?

At the ANRF, we provide research grants to the best and the brightest researchers in the field of arthritis and RA. In fact, one of our earliest recipients, Dr. Gale “Morrie” Granger, was responsible for globally advancing the field of RA significantly with his discovery of the molecule that initiates the inflammatory process in Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is on his discovery alone that many of today’s most effective medications have been produced.

More recently, another of our recipients – Dr. Chuanju Liu – discovered a protein that may actually stop the progression of RA and reverse the disease.

Since our inception more than 40 years ago, the Arthritis National Research Foundation has awarded more than 75 grants specifically to advanced researchers who are devoted to unlocking the puzzle of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Read more about rheumatoid arthritis research.

How you can help fight RA:

The first way you can help is with your charitable donations. Your support enables us continue and advance this critical research to help people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) one day lead pain-free lives. The other ways you can help are listed on our take action to help cure arthritis page. From running/walking races to raising arthritis awareness with photos online to purchasing awareness gear, you can be part of the team!

Please make a donation today. Hopefully, in the near future, no one will be asking “What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?”

*statistics provided by The Mayo Clinic, www.MayoClinic.com

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