Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is rheumatoid arthritis hereditary?"
Can it skip a generation? My dad has it, so what does this mean for me?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease where the immune system attacks the lining of some joints. This cause pain and swelling in those joints. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not completely understood. We know that it effects women more than men and that it is more common in people that smoke. There also does seem to be a component of genetics that plays a role in the disease development. However, this does not mean that you can pass rheumatoid arthritis from one family member to another. There may be certain genes that your father had that increased the chances that he would develop it. He may have even passed those genes on to you. None of this means that you will get the disease for sure. It may mean that on average, you probably have a greater chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis than the average person. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and what's known about the genetic portion of the disease. If you know what to look out for, then if you do end up with it, then treatment can begin early. Today's rheumatoid medications are very good at controlling symptoms and keeping people fully functional. Good luck.
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