As is often the case with diseases of which the exact cause isn’t known, there’s no sure-fire way of preventing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Smoking has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of RA, and persistent smoking in people suffering from RA may predict a poorer outcome.
But with early diagnosis of RA, aggressive treatment is possible, by means of which the disease can be stopped or slowed down. This could prevent increased joint damage over a long period of time.
A healthy diet, the right kind of exercise, no excessive drinking, no smoking and trying to reduce your stress levels will all contribute to your general health, whether you have RA, or not.
Reviewed by Dr Stella Botha, rheumatologist at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town (MBChB, MRCP, PhD), November 2017.