Rheumatoid arthritis causes many chronic symptoms—some physical and some less tangible. One of the most common intangible symptoms is chronic fatigue.

Treating other symptoms of RA may also help treat fatigue. Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fatigue

A new study offers hope that a class of medication used to treat RA may be have the added benefit of relieving fatigue.


As reported in the journal Rheumatology, researchers examined the records of nearly 7,000 RA patients who had severe fatigue and were just beginning treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) biologics.

See Risks and Side Effects of Biologics

After 6 months, 70% of the participants recorded improvement in their fatigue levels, and 66% of them moved out of the category of having severe fatigue. The participants most likely to experience improvement in fatigue levels were women who were employed and had a low level of disability.1

See Biologics for RA and Other Autoimmune Conditions

The researchers point out that these results support anecdotal evidence and other findings that fatigue improves after patients begin taking anti-TNF medications. However, more research is needed. Also, the results of research about fatigue are hard to verify, because there is no reliable, standardized way to clinically measure fatigue.

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  1. Patients receiving anti-TNF therapies experience clinically important improvements in RA–related fatigue: results from the British Society of Rheumatology Biologics Register for Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatology (2014) doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keu390