Rheumatoid Arthritis Glossary

Don’t let confusing medical terms stop you from managing your rheumatoid arthritis. To help you better communicate with your healthcare provider, we’ve defined some of the most common RA terms:

Stacey Feintuch
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Anemia: Having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal amount of hemoglobin in the blood.

Stiffness or, more often, fusion of a joint.

Inflammation of a joint. Inflamed joints can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain.

Genetically engineered drugs taken to lessen inflammation.

C-reactive protein:
A protein that increases with inflammation.

Periods of increased inflammation and symptoms, often alternating with periods of remission.

Protected against infection.

Can suppress or prevent the immune response.

The area where two bones are attached for the purpose of motion of body parts. Usually formed of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage.

Joint aspiration:
A procedure in which a sterile needle and syringe are used to drain joint fluid from a joint.

nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug): Commonly prescribed for the inflammation of arthritis and other body tissues, such as in tendinitis and bursitis. Examples of NSAIDs include aspirin and ibuprofen.

Occupational therapist:
A licensed health professional who is trained to evaluate patients with joint conditions, such as arthritis, to determine their impact on daily activities.

Physical therapist: A licensed health professional who can help people reduce pain and improve or restore mobility. Physical therapists can teach patients how to prevent or manage their condition in order to achieve long-term health benefits.

Range of motion:
The range through which a joint can be moved.

Happening again.

Period without inflammation and symptoms, often alternating with flares.

Rheumatoid factor:
An abnormal antibody that is measurable in the blood. Commonly used as a blood test to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid nodules:
Firm lumps in the skin of people with RA. Usually occur in the body’s pressure points, most commonly the elbows.

Sedimentation rate:
A blood test that detects and monitors inflammation in the body.

Synovial fluid: The slippery fluid that lubricates joints and provides nutrients to the cartilage.

Inflammation of the synovial membrane, the lining of the joint.

The tissue that lines the inside of the joints and produces synovial fluid, which lubricates and nourishes the joints.

(tumor necrosis factor): A protein produced by the immune system’s cells to stimulate an inflammatory reaction.

April 2013