- Loss of function in the joints.
occur when the body's immune system mistakes healthy body tissue as foreign matter and attacks it. In rheumatoid arthritis
, the immune system is attacking the joints, although other parts of the body may also be affected.
The most commonly affected joints in rheumatoid arthritis are the joints of the fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes. A distinguishing feature of the disease is that it usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning both sides of the body are equally affected. So, if you have rheumatoid arthritis in your right hand, you will also likely have it in your left hand.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can vary in severity, and may come and go over time. Many people alternate between periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods when the symptoms are improved, known as remission.
During flares, joint pain will develop on both sides of the body, and the affected joints will feel warm, swollen, and tender. The joints may become stiff, especially in the morning. More general symptoms may also occur, such as weakness and fatigue.
Typically, rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease that requires long-term treatment to manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. As the disease progresses, the joints may become damaged, leading to loss of physical function. One of the goals of treatment is to slow down or stop the progression of the disease, and maintain physical functioning.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are a group of drugs used to relieve painful, swollen joints and to slow down the joint damage that occurs with disease progression. Neoral
is considered a DMARD. Like other DMARDs, it can take several weeks for the medication to begin working.
Neoral is reserved for severe rheumatoid arthritis that has not adequately responded to methotrexate
, another DMARD. Neoral may be taken in combination with methotrexate.