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User's Manual: Joints

10 Ways Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects the Body

Although often mistaken for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1.3 million Americans.
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Living with RA

by Tammy Worth

Although often mistaken for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1.3 million Americans.

Along with joint pain and swelling, about four out of 10 people with RA have related problems in other body parts, says Eric Matteson, MD, a consultant rheumatologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn.

RA can decrease life expectancy, but “with modern therapies, we are seeing less rheumatoid disease outside of the joints, and patients are living longer,” he says.

Following are ways in which RA affects the body and what you can do about it.

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