This is the official website of the South African Rheumatism and Arthritis Association, home of the rheumatology community of South Africa. Our aim is to promote, maintain and protect the honour and interest of the discipline of rheumatology as a medical specialty for the benefit of all.

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Patient Centre

Rheumatiod Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (rue-ma-TOYD arth-write-tis) is a chronic disease, mainly characterized by inflammation of the lining, or synovium, of the joints. It can lead to long-term joint damage, resulting in chronic pain, loss of function and disability

Patient Information

Rheumatiod Arthritis

Arthritis means inflammation of joints. There are many causes of arthritis and RA is just one cause – examples of others are osteoarthritis and gout. RA is a common form of arthritis affecting about 1 in 100 people. RA can happen to anyone. It is not a hereditary disease. It can develop at any age, but most commonly starts between the ages of 40 and 60. It is about three times more common in women than in men.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis or AS, is a form of arthritis that affects the spine, and can also affect other joints. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort with stiffness. This booklet aims to tell you something about the condition and how it may affect your health and activity. It also deals with how to look after yourself, different forms of treatment, and gives advice about posture,


Osteoarthritis (also known as OA) is the most common rheumatic disorder and a leading cause of disability. In OA, the cartilage deteriorates in quality and gets thinner and softer. This process occurs in any joint, but there are joints in which it is more common, such as the neck, lower back, knees, hips, thumbs, fingers and toes. It is a chronic condition that gets progressively worse over time although cartilage breakdown usually begins some years before any symptoms appear.


The word ‘osteoporosis’ means, literally, ‘porous bone’. It is a condition where you gradually lose bone material so that your bones become more fragile. As a result, they are more likely to break even after a simple fall. Osteoporosis is common in South Africa.

Sjögren's Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, where your immune system attacks your healthy cells, especially glands that produce moisture for your body. The disease typically affects glands that make tears in the eyes, and saliva in the mouth causing dry eye or dry mouth or both at the same time. The abnormal immune system causes inflammation and then destruction of the tear glands and salivary glands. These abnormal cells also make antibodies that cause damage to other organs in the body.

Biologic Education

Rheumatoid Arthritis, Spondyloarthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis are all autoimmune diseases. Your body’s immune system protects you from infection by attacking bacteria and viruses that invade your body. In autoimmune diseases, your immune system stays stimulated and overproduction of TNF by some immune cells results in an exaggerated immune and inflammatory response and is one of the main culprits that lead to joint and bone damage.
BIOLOGICS: Biologics are disease-modifying agents.
It is a protein that resembles a human antibody which targets TNF, thereby blocking the effect in its continual inflammatory cycle. Benefits are maintained as long as you stay on the biologic medication
Simply put – Biologics switch off your disease and allows your body to heal itself.