15 Surprising Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis


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RA used to be a "wasting disease"

In the past, people with RA were often rail-thin; exercise was thought to do further damage to the joints, so their muscles atrophied, says David Pisetsky, MD, professor of medicine and immunology at the Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C. In addition, the chronic inflammation associated with RA causes weight loss and loss of appetite, he says.

Today, medicines curb inflammation, and exercise is part of treatment—so RA doesn't have to mean wasting away.

While exercise can be difficult (if not impossible) during a flare-up, activity is generally thought to help, not hurt, people with RA.

Next: Smoking may trigger RA

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