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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints. Persistent inflammation over time can damage affected joints. The severity can vary from mild to severe. Treatments include disease-modifying medicines to suppress inflammation, which can prevent or delay the progression of the disease, and medication to ease pain. The earlier treatment is started, the less joint damage is likely to occur. Surgery is needed in some cases if a joint becomes badly damaged.