What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA) ?

RA is an autoimmune disease, which means the body's natural defence system attacks healthy parts of the body. In RA, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints (called the synovial membrane), causing inflammation, pain, stiffness and loss of function.1,2

Continued inflammation over time damages the bones, cartilage, muscles and ligaments of the joint, which is largely irreversible.1,2

Healthy Joint

Healthy joint

Joint with RA

Joint with RA

RA is not just a disease of the elderly

RA can occur at any age, but is more common in people over 30.2

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary between people, but the most common are:1

  • Joint pain, swelling and tenderness
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Symmetry - the same joint is affected on both sides

Most people with RA will experience flares, short periods when their joint pain is much worse than usual, but they are often followed by longer periods without much inflammation. 1,2

Even though RA is a lifelong and progressive condition, early diagnosis and treatment can help people lead a full and active life.1

It's important to remember that even when your symptoms feel better your RA is still active and you still need to manage it carefully. Continue to take medications as directed by your doctor and manage your condition every day.

Discover F.L.Ex and find effective ways to manage RA and lead a satisfying and active life.


  1. Arthritis Australia. Arthritis information sheet: rheumatoid arthritis. May 2015
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. A picture of rheumatoid arthritis in Australia. Arthritis series no. 9. Cat. no. PHE 110. Canberra: AIHW.