Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects your joints. Most often, joint pain is in your hands, wrists, knees, and ankles.

RA causes symmetrical pain, which means you will likely feel similar joint pain on both sides of your body. Additionally, joint stiffness and muscle pain tend to be worse in the morning. Too much sitting or periods of inactivity, like taking a long car ride, can also lead to pain and stiffness.

Some people may experience complications in other parts of the body, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. These include:

  • dry eyes and mouth
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • bumpy skin
  • inflammation of blood vessels
  • heart damage

All these physical issues may lead to difficulty in social settings or in day-to-day functioning, which can affect your mood.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines quality of life (sometimes referred to as QOL) as related to a person’s perception of their physical health, psychological state, relationships, and beliefs. If you have RA, it may affect your comfort and happiness.

According to a 2019 preliminary study in Croatia, the most severe effects of RA are chronic pain and loss of physical function. These can impact a person’s quality of life. The study’s 25 participants, all diagnosed with RA, completed four different health questionnaires or surveys. They answered questions about their level of pain, their emotional state, and their desire to engage in social activities and hobbies.

The results comparing quality of life in people with RA and the general population were mixed, but researchers concluded that quality of life in people with RA should be a serious consideration when creating a treatment plan.

A 2017 study, which interviewed 22 people with RA, looked at the various ways people understand quality of life. The results of the study showed that treating RA holistically may be best for improving your quality of life.

Take this brief symptom self-assessment to help determine whether RA is affecting your quality of life. While not intended as medical advice, the results from this quiz may indicate that it’s time to check in with your doctor about better symptom management.