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Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the lining of joints, mostly in the hands, wrists, feet and ankles. RA causes those joints to become inflamed and painful, and can even affect blood vessels and other organs like the skin, eyes and kidneys. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men, and it’s often genetic.

For diagnosis and treatment, as well as comprehensive care, of rheumatoid arthritis in CA, turn to our orthopedic specialists in the Bay Area at Dignity Health. 

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The symptoms of this condition are often vague and develop slowly, including joints being stiff in the morning, as well as fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and general muscle achiness. 

Joint symptoms often affect both sides of your body and can cause:

  • Inflammation and warmth
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Stiffness and swelling

Other symptoms of RA may include eye pain, nerve pain, nodules under your skin, skin redness and inflammation, and swollen glands. Receiving an early diagnosis and treatment for rheumatoid arthritis can reduce joint damage, joint deformity, bone loss and preserve joint function.

What Causes RA?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakes healthy tissues as dangerous to the body and attacks them. The following factors can also contribute to RA: 

  • Environment. Environmental influences can be a factor, such as infections and smoking.
  • Genetics. Certain forms of HLA genes increase your risk of RA.
  • Hormones. Women between the ages of 25 and 55 are more likely to develop RA.

Diagnosing RA 

Your doctor at Dignity Health will use your medical and health history, a physical exam, X-rays and blood tests to help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment from a Team of Experts

There is no cure for RA, but treatment can be effective in minimizing and delaying joint damage. Your treatment plan may include seeing a joint specialist for pain management through medications, lifestyle changes, physical therapy and in some cases, surgery.

Find the personal and effective orthopedic treatment you’re searching for in the Bay Area at a Dignity Health hospital. Use our Find a Doctor tool to reach out to a specialist near you.

Dignity Health offers patients many orthopedics services, including the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Redwood City.