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Rheumatoid arthritis affects young women more than men

Memories of your grandparents from your childhood may lead you to conclude that arthritis is primarily a condition for older, retired people. But at least one form of the disease can affect people as young as 30.

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disorder that affects nearly 1.5 million people in the United States. It can cause pain, joint stiffness, swollen joints and fatigue. Symptoms can change from day to day, with flare-ups often lasting days or even months. RA often affects people symmetrically; if a joint on one side of the body is affected, usually its corresponding joint on the other side is also.

For some reason, women are much more at risk of developing RA than men. The Arthritis Foundation says that nearly three times as many women as men have the disease. Also, women are more likely to get RA as a younger adult. For females, RA commonly appears from between age 30 and 60. Men who develop RA usually do not get it until later in life.

RA has no cure. Medication can help ease symptoms and slow RA’s progression. Different drugs work for different patients, and self-management can make a big difference too. For example, staying physically active can help prevent stiff joints. Exercise can keep your muscles strong and manage your weight, all of which can also help.

However, if your case is severe enough, keeping your symptoms under control may not always be possible. Eventually, it may be necessary to stop working and turn to Social Security Disability benefits.


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