Rheumatoid Arthritis


If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you know how painful it can be -- fatigue, pain, swelling, tenderness, warmth and stiffness in the joints. As the disease progresses, it can cause fever, weight loss, anemia and deterioration of the muscles, joints, eyes and lungs.

The good news is that rheumatoid arthritis is no longer your mother’s disease. For many years, the disease was associated with painful and crippling deformities to the hands and other joints. But with early diagnosis and treatment, today, that is rarely the case.

Why Nebraska Medicine for Rheumatoid Diseases?

World-Renowned Experts

Our rheumatoid arthritis specialists have played a significant role in pioneering new and better treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis that have become the standard nationally and worldwide. Over the last 20 years, the medical field has made tremendous advances in the early diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

Early Diagnosis

While rheumatoid arthritis affects a very small percentage of the population, it is one of the most serious forms of arthritis. The disease affects not only the joints, but can attack the entire body and become severely debilitating. Once joint damage has occurred, it is permanent. If diagnosed and treated early, many patients can live a normal life in terms of functionality and longevity. Treatment within three months of onset of the disease can have a significant impact in preventing damage and destruction to the joints. An anti-CCP antibody test can detect rheumatoid arthritis in its earliest stages. This test, combined with clinical findings by an experienced rheumatologist and historical points can confirm a diagnosis.

Leaders in Research and Treatment

Our specialists founded the Rheumatoid Arthritis Investigational Network (RAIN) to find new and better ways to treat this disease. This investigational network has been a leading catalyst for many treatment advances. Based at UNMC, the network includes approximately 50 rheumatologists and nurse-study coordinators located throughout Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and California that collaborate on clinical research. Two of the most important advancements include the development of the anti-CCP antibody test to detect rheumatoid arthritis in its earliest stages and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that can halt the progression of the disease.


Once a diagnosis is confirmed, it is in your best interest to be treated by a rheumatologist to develop a treatment plan because of the complexity of treatment. There are approximately 20 disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that are used in treatment. Most patients require a combination of these that are customized for each patient. When prescribed appropriately, these powerful drugs can halt the progression of the disease. More than 80 percent of patients will have excellent results if they are put on the right treatment regimen and they are monitored closely.

Highly Ranked Care

Nebraska Medicine is ranked among the nation’s best. Each year, U.S. News and World Report surveys the nation’s roughly 5,000 hospitals to come up with the year’s list of Best Hospitals. Just 3 percent of the hospitals analyzed for Best Hospitals earn national ranking in even one specialty. We were recognized as a high-performing hospital for rheumatology in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report.