When you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is. Your immune system’s internal battle can make it hard for you to do day-to-day things, let alone have enough energy for the fun stuff. You might have stiff, painful, swollen joints, and you may feel worse in the morning. You might not have much energy, eat less, or have mild, low grade fevers. All of this can leave you frustrated and worried.
But there’s hope. While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (lifelong) condition, getting the right treatment early on can slow down its progress, protect your joints from more damage, help you feel and move better and protect you from complications. Our experts will help you manage your RA so you can live a productive, full life.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Rheumatoid Arthritis Care?
People with RA often have other chronic health conditions and need care from other providers. Your team of specialists will work together — and alongside your primary care provider — to give you personalized care and support. Meet our team.
We’ll learn about you, your life and goals to help you manage your RA. We’ll go over treatment options, help you make healthy lifestyle changes — like eating healthy and stopping smoking — and offer physical and occupational therapy.
Our board-certified and fellowship-trained healthcare providers specialize in rheumatology and arthritis treatment. Many are leaders in the field, helping to create national treatment guidelines using their deep knowledge of RA.
U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks Cleveland Clinic a top hospital in the nation. Newsweek has also named us a top hospital in the world.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic
At your first few visits, we’ll sit down and talk with you to confirm your diagnosis. We’ll ask about your overall health, what kind of symptoms you have and how they’re affecting your life. We’ll also do a physical exam to see how well your joints work and if you have pain, stiffness or swelling.
You may get blood tests so we can look for signs of inflammatory disease, like abnormal antibodies, proteins, uric acid and genetic (inherited) markers. We might also order imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasounds or an MRI to give us a closer look at your joint inflammation. All of this helps us craft a treatment plan that focuses on you.
Meet our rheumatoid arthritis care team
At Cleveland Clinic, you’ll have ongoing support from our experienced team of healthcare providers. Because RA affects your body in many ways, your care team often reaches across specialties and could include:
- Radiologists (imaging specialists).
- Primary care providers.
- Physical therapists.
- Occupational therapists.
- Podiatrists (foot specialists).
- Nurse practitioners.
- Physician assistants.
Who Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
Your team of healthcare providers will support you throughout your journey. We’ll design a personalized treatment plan that takes your symptoms, test results and other health conditions into account.
Cleveland Clinic is at the forefront of using leading-edge medications for rheumatoid arthritis. Choosing the right ones for each person’s needs is an art and a science. Our expert team works with you to make adjustments as needed so we don’t under- or overtreat your RA.
Medications to ease your joint symptoms might include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including COX-2 inhibitors, ibuprofen and naproxen.
- Biologic agents, which are injected or given as an infusion and can slow down your immune system from attacking your joints.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which ease symptoms and slow disease progression. DMARDs block the effects of chemicals released when your immune system attacks your joints.
- Corticosteroids, which are cautiously used only for short-term relief of flare-ups.
Long-term rheumatoid arthritis care
Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic, which means you’ll need to manage it all your life. Your team will work closely with you and your primary care provider to make sure your therapy remains effective. We’ll also keep a close eye on any treatment side effects.
We’ll schedule follow-up appointments with you as needed so we can see how you’re doing. You’ll also likely get regular testing — like bloodwork that can show if your treatment is working — and imaging tests to make sure your organs are staying healthy. Based on these visits and test results, we may adjust your treatment plan to make it more effective or lower side effects.
Taking the Next Step
Knowing you have a chronic illness can be stressful. But you don’t need to manage it alone. Cleveland Clinic’s healthcare providers are here to help you get the best treatment for your rheumatoid arthritis. And we’ll stay with you as you manage your RA into the future. We want you to keep moving and feeling good so you can live an active life.
Scheduling a visit with Cleveland Clinic’s rheumatoid arthritis experts is easy. We’re here to help you manage your RA.
Billing & Insurance
Manage your Cleveland Clinic account. Find billing information and financial assistance, plus FAQs.
Securely access your personal health information at any time, day or night.