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4 Devastating Rheumatoid Arthritis Stages

Est. Reading: 4 minutes

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and chronic inflammatory condition that can affect the joints, resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis typically involves medication, lifestyle changes, and exercise. Surgery may be necessary to correct joint damage caused by the disease in some cases. But what are the four rheumatoid arthritis stages?

rheumatoid arthritis stages

Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Several risk factors have been linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. These include:

- Family history: Having a family member with rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing the disease.

- Age: Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in adults between 40 and 60. However, it can also occur in children and older adults.

- Gender: Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men.

- Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

- Smoking: Smoking cigarettes has been linked with an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and may also contribute to the progression of the disease.

- Exposure to certain chemicals: People exposed to certain chemicals, such as silica or asbestos, have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

- Having certain medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as lupus and psoriasis, can increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

If you have any of these risk factors, it does not mean you will develop rheumatoid arthritis. However, it is essential to be aware of the factors that may increase your risk so that you can be alert for any early signs or symptoms of the disease.

What Are the 4 Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

There is no definitive course of rheumatoid arthritis. The disease may progress slowly, with long periods of remission, or it may fluctuate rapidly, with periodic flare-ups. However, rheumatoid arthritis stages generally go into four phases:

rheumatoid arthritis stages

1. The early stage of rheumatoid arthritis, also known as the prodromal phase, is characterized by mild symptoms that may come and go. Joint pain and stiffness are common during this phase.

2. The active stage of rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by more severe symptoms, including joint damage and deformity. This phase can last for several years.

3. Persistent symptoms and disability characterize the chronic phase. This phase can last for years or even decades. Joints may become fused, making movement difficult or impossible.

4. The final stage of rheumatoid arthritis is known as end-stage disease. This phase is characterized by complete joint destruction and disability. There is no effective treatment for the end-stage disease, and joint replacement surgery is often the only option.

End-stage rheumatoid arthritis can be a debilitating and even life-threatening condition. However, with early diagnosis and treatment, many people with rheumatoid arthritis can live relatively everyday lives. With proper management, most people with rheumatoid arthritis will not progress to end-stage disease.

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but treatments can help reduce symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis typically fall into three categories: medication, lifestyle changes, and surgery.

Rheumatoid arthritis stages and treatment


There are a variety of medications that individuals can use to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The type of medication prescribed will depend on the severity of the disease and the individual’s response to treatment. Commonly used drugs include:

- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs can help to relieve pain and inflammation. They are available over the counter or by prescription.

- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): DMARDs are a type of medication that can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. They are typically only prescribed for people with more severe diseases.

- Biologic agents: Biologic agents are a newer medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They work by targeting specific parts of the immune system.

Lifestyle Changes

Several lifestyle changes can help to manage rheumatoid arthritis. These include:

- Exercise: Exercise can help to improve joint function and flexibility. It is essential to start slowly and gradually increase the amount and intensity of exercise.

- Weight loss: Losing weight can reduce the amount of stress on joints and help to relieve pain.

- Assistive devices: Using assistive devices, such as canes or splints, can help to reduce the amount of stress on joints.

- Stress reduction: reducing stress can help to improve overall well-being and may help to reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.


Surgery may sometimes be necessary to treat joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Surgery options include:

- Joint replacement: Joint replacement surgery involves replacing a damaged joint with an artificial joint.

- Joint fusion: Joint fusion surgery involves joining two bones together so that they heal into one solid bone.

- Arthrodesis: Arthrodesis surgery involves fusing a joint to provide stability and pain relief.

- Tendon repair: Tendon repair surgery is used to repair damaged tendons.

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