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2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unlike osteoarthritis, which comes on as joints are strained, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) begins with an overactive immune response. As your immune system mistakenly attacks your healthy joints, inflammation increases, leaving you with pain, swelling, and in the worst cases, disfigurement.
The pain and extreme fatigue of RA can be difficult to handle, but the physical damage it causes is even more serious. If the condition isn’t brought under control, joint damage can be permanent, and the dangerously ramped-up immune response can begin to target other areas of the body, like major organs.
RA symptoms can bear some similarity to OA symptoms, but they’re often more severe and appear in a symmetrical pattern (that is, if the left wrist becomes inflamed, so will the right wrist). Morning stiffness will also last longer — for some, it can stretch well into the afternoon.