Elderly patient with rheumatoid arthritis in hands

Rheumatoid arthritis

Find out all you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis, its symptoms and treatments.

We often think of arthritis as a single disease, but the term actually covers more than 100 conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, especially the joints. The most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects hundreds of thousands of Australians. The disease attacks a person’s joints, causing swelling, tenderness and pain.

This article looks into the causes of rheumatoid arthritis and takes a closer look at the options available to help treat and manage the condition.

Compare your health insurance options now

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease caused by white blood cells and antibody proteins in your blood attacking your joints instead of fighting off infections.

This results in inflammation, swelling, tenderness and pain in the affected joints, which can eventually wear away the cartilage covering the ends of your bones and erode the bones themselves. The sheaths around tendons can also suffer inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis, and in rare cases the lungs are affected.

It’s not fully known why people develop rheumatoid arthritis and sufferers can develop the condition at any age. The condition is three times more likely to affect women than men and some people are more genetically predisposed to developing the condition. Factors such as smoking and a number of infections and viruses can trigger rheumatoid arthritis, but investigation into the causes of the condition is continuing.

Rheumatoid arthritis is currently the second most common form of arthritis in Australia and there is no cure.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can produce a long list of symptoms. The following symptoms are the most common:

The symptoms and their severity vary from person to person. There may also be times when your rheumatoid arthritis is fairly quiet and other times when the condition flares up.

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

There are several options available to help you manage and treat your rheumatoid arthritis. The first step is to seek medical advice as soon as you exhibit symptoms. Your doctor will refer you to a specialist (a rheumatologist) who can offer advice and assistance on the best treatment options.

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, here are some of the ways you can manage the condition:

Rheumatoid arthritis stats



Speak with an adviser or compare health policies online

Details Features
High 65 / 75 / 85% - $0/$250/$500 Excess
High 65 / 75 / 85% - $0/$250/$500 Excess
Combines High Hospital Cover with its highest level of extras cover.
  • Cover starting from $44.74 weekly
  • 12 month waiting period for pregnancy
  • 65% back on extras
  • Choice of $0, $250 and $500 excess
Enquire Now More info
Smart Combination
Smart Combination
Smart combination provides a high level of cover for both hospital and extras.
  • Claim up to $2725 back on extras
  • Hip and knee replacements
  • General and major dental
  • Physio
Enquire Now More info
Bronze Hospital (no pregnancy) and Bronze Extras Set Benefits
Bronze Hospital (no pregnancy) and Bronze Extras Set Benefits
High level of hospital cover and extras cover for a range of popular services including knee and should reconstructions.
  • Most comprehensive hospital options
  • Cover for general and major dental
  • Shared or single room in a private hospital
  • Intensive and coronary care
Enquire Now More info
Highest level of combined cover offered by CBHS. Includes the same benefits as Comprehensive Hospital and Top Extras plus more. Restricted fund: Only current or former staff (and their families) of Commonwealth Bank Group and their subsidiaries which include Aussie, Bankwest, Colonial First State and more can join.
  • No excess or co-payments on hospital cover
  • Non-student dependent under 25 can be kept on policy
  • Access to Chronic Disease Management Programs
  • Widest range of extras including orthodontics
Enquire Now More info
Premium Hospital and Silver Extras Cover
Premium Hospital and Silver Extras Cover
Comprehensive hospital cover including pregnancy cover. Also included affordable mid-level extras cover for dental, optical and therapies.
  • Cover from $39.50 per week
  • Pregnancy and birth-related services cover
  • Heart surgery cover
  • 100% cash back on two dental check per year
Enquire Now More info
Top Hospital with Top Extras
Top Hospital with Top Extras
Get comprehensive hospital and extras cover and tailor your policy to your needs.
  • Pregnancy and birth services cover
  • Back surgery cover
  • $1000 general dental annual limit
  • $600 physiotherapy annual limit
Enquire Now More info
Young Couples Combined Cover
Young Couples Combined Cover
Get Quote
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment is not an endorsement and does not imply its appropriateness for your circumstances. Our information is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional and you should not rely on this general information for diagnosis or answers for your particular circumstances. Instead seek advice from a registered health care professional. This content has been prepared for Australian audiences and was accurate at the time of publication but, over time, the currency and completeness of the published material may change.

Picture: Shutterstock

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

You might like these...

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site