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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most debilitating type of arthritis because it can cause deformity and disability. It affects more than 1 million Americans—including 200,000 children who have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. RA's onset usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 50, but is known to affect older adults, too. Women are affected three times as often as men.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic pain condition. If you'd like to learn more about what reduces chronic pain, take our Chronic Pain Treatments Quiz.

In the spine, RA usually affects the joints in the neck (cervical spine). The joints in the upper cervical spine include the odontoid process, a tooth-like structure that rises from the body of the axis (second cervical vertebra). You'll learn more about the anatomy of rheumatoid arthritis and the joints that it affects in this article.

There are many other types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, a type that commonly affects the spine. This article series will focus on rheumatoid arthritis, but you can learn more about other types of spinal inflammatory arthritis here:

Updated on: 11/06/14
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Anatomy of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects joints, and it can be present in the spine. Learn about the different parts of the joints, especially about the facet joints in the spine. Also explains cartilage and the synovium, which are important in RA.
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