Arthritis and Rheumatology | UC Davis Health

Arthritis and Rheumatology

Learn about our renowned expertise in treating autoimmune disorders and rheumatic conditions and diseases, such as arthritis.

Medically reviewed by Barton Wise, M.D. on Dec. 04, 2023.

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Advanced Care for Rheumatic Conditions

The rheumatologists at UC Davis Health provide expert care for autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. People throughout California and around the globe visit our program for leading-edge, individualized treatment.

Our Difference

Individualized Care

Within our program, we offer specialized clinics for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vasculitis and allergies. This enables us to provide focused care, tailored to your specific needs.

Highest Standards

Our team of specialists, researchers and educators are passionate about delivering the most up-to-date care available. We ensure every aspect of our program adheres to UC Davis Health’s highest standards.

Leading-Edge Research

Our three laboratories are at the forefront of rheumatology research. Our researchers investigate the causes of rheumatic conditions and the connection between the immune system and the nervous system.


Types of Rheumatic Diseases and Conditions

Rheumatic diseases include chronic conditions, such as arthritis and autoimmune diseases. They are treated by internal medicine specialists called rheumatologists.


Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation, stiffness and pain in your joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage inside your joints wears down over time. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), another form of arthritis, happens when your immune system attacks your joints. Both types of arthritis can affect your range of motion and quality of life.

Autoimmune Diseases

Your immune system protects you by attacking viruses and bacteria that invade your body. But in autoimmune conditions and diseases, your immune system confuses healthy cells in your body for dangerous invaders and attacks them. You may experience symptoms like pain, fatigue and swelling. Autoimmune diseases can affect many parts of your body. Psoriasis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are some common autoimmune conditions.


Risk Factors for Arthritis

About 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have a form of arthritis. Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing it.

Top risk factors include:


As you get older, you become more likely to develop arthritis.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) tends to run in families. Having a close relative with this form of arthritis increases your risk.


A virus or bacterial infection in your joint can lead to inflammation and arthritis.


Traumatic injuries and overuse (wear and tear) injuries to a joint increase your risk of osteoarthritis.


In studies, obesity has been shown to increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Biological Sex

Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis and RA.


Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing RA.


Risk Factors for Autoimmune Diseases

Scientists don’t yet know exactly what causes autoimmune disorders. But there are some risk factors that can make you more susceptible.

Top risk factors include:


Some conditions like lupus tend to run in families. Having a close relative with an autoimmune disease increases your risk.

Existing Autoimmune Disease

Approximately 1 in 4 people who have an autoimmune disease will develop another type of autoimmune condition.


Exposure to Epstein-Barr virus or the bacteria group A Streptococcus can increase your risk for developing an autoimmune disease.


Certain medications that treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression have been linked to autoimmune diseases.

Biological Sex

It’s estimated that 78% of people with autoimmune diseases are women.


Smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing lupus and other autoimmune conditions.

"Arthritis Risk Factors," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

"Sex Differences in Autoimmune Disease," National Library of Medicine,

Why Early Detection of Rheumatic Conditions Matter

Rheumatic diseases are complex, chronic conditions. If left untreated, they can damage tissues and organs in your body.

Early detection and treatment are important for protecting your health. A rheumatologist is highly trained in diagnosing and treating rheumatic and autoimmune conditions and diseases. They can help you manage and improve your symptoms and better your quality of life.

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