Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune form of arthritis that causes joint pain and inflammation. When left untreated, RA can lead to permanent joint damage. But with advances in treatment options, RA is manageable. At Warehouse Primary Care & Specialty Clinic in Cullman, Alabama, the team of skilled providers specializes in diagnosing and treating rheumatoid arthritis. To find out what’s causing your joint pain, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

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What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints. Your immune system protects your body from outside substances that cause sickness and disease.

If you have an autoimmune disorder, your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body, causing inflammation and damage.

With RA, your immune system attacks the lining of your joints. It’s a chronic disease that affects joints on both sides of your body, usually starting in the smaller joints like your hands and feet.

Anyone can develop RA. Researchers are still investigating the cause but theorize it may develop from a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

RA symptoms vary. In some people, the symptoms develop slowly over the years; in others, they occur suddenly and unexpectedly. Common symptoms of RA include:

  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in more than one joint
  • Symptoms in the same joint on both sides of the body
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Fever

Many people with RA experience joint stiffness when they first wake up in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time. Unlike with osteoarthritis (OA), the joint stiffness in people with RA improves with movement.

What tests do I need to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis?

The Warehouse Primary Care & Specialty Clinic team may request a number of tests to confirm or rule out RA after they complete a history and physical exam. Testing might include:

Blood tests

Your provider may run a number of blood tests, including antibody testing to look for antibodies common in people with RA, such as rheumatoid factor and citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP).

They might also check for anemia (low red blood cell count) and elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), which indicates joint inflammation.


The team may order X-rays of your joints to look for signs of degeneration.

Warehouse Primary Care & Specialty Clinic offers on-site labs and X-rays.

What are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis?

Treatment for RA focuses on limiting flare-ups and preventing or delaying joint damage. For RA, your provider may recommend:

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Biologic agents
  • Weight management
  • Balanced diet
  • Regular exercise

If you have severe joint damage from your RA, the Warehouse Primary Care & Specialty Clinic team may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon who can talk to you about your surgical options, such as joint replacement surgery.

For expert care for your rheumatoid arthritis from a highly skilled team, call Warehouse Primary Care & Specialty Clinic or schedule an appointment online today.