The course of rheumatoid arthritis is hard to predict. It usually progresses slowly, over months or years. In some people it doesn’t get worse, and symptoms stay about the same. But in rare cases, symptoms come on rapidly, within days.
Symptoms can come and go. You may have times in your life when joint pain goes away on its own for a while. This is called remission.
If the disease progresses, joint pain can restrict simple movements, such as your ability to grip, and daily activities, such as climbing stairs. It is a common cause of permanent disability. But early treatment may control the disease and keep it from getting worse.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more likely to get worse when:
A rheumatoid factor blood test is positive.
A blood test for the antibody CCP (cyclic citrullinated peptide) is positive.
The disease fails to respond to therapy.
Bumps (nodules camera.gif) form rapidly.
Many joints camera.gif are affected.
X-rays show early loss of bone or cartilage.