What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (ra) is a generalized disease, occurring more often in women, which primarily affects the connective tissue; arthritis is the dominant clinical manifestation, involving many joints, especially those of the hands and feet, accompanied by the thickening of articular cartilages, which become eroded; the course is variable but often chronic and progressive; leading to deformities and disability. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2008a)
How does a person get Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Even though infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi have long been suspected, none has been proven as the cause. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is a very active area of worldwide research. Some scientists believe that the tendency to develop rheumatoid arthritis may be genetically inherited. It is suspected that certain infections or factors in the environment might trigger the immune system to attack the body's own tissues, resulting in inflammation of the joints and of various organs of the body such as the lungs or eyes. Regardless of the exact trigger, the result is an immune system that is geared up to promote inflammation in the joints and occasionally other tissues of the body. Immune cells, called lymphocytes, are activated and chemical messengers (cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor/TNF and interleukin1/IL-1) are expressed in the inflamed areas.
Environmental factors also seem to play some role in the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, scientists have reported that smoking tobacco increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2008a)
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosed?
Diagnosing RA can be hard especially early on. There is no single test that can clearly identify rheumatoid arthritis. Instead, doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis based on factors that are strongly associated with this disease. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2008a)
What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Some common physical symptoms include those similar to the common cold and flu. They are fever, muscle aches, sleepiness, weakness and loss of appetite.
What are complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Complications of RA include living and managing pain. Possibly surgey, which in some cases with RA they fuse your bones together, thus creating it impossible to perform some daily activites. Overtime the inflamation can destroy your joint tissue again making it difficult to perform daily activities. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2008a)
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis treated?
RA is mainly treated by exercise, medication and even surgery. Because rheumatoid arthritis presents itself on many different fronts and in many different ways, treatment must be tailored to the individual, taking into account the severity of your arthritis, other medical conditions you may have and your individual lifestyle. Current treatment methods focus on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, stopping or slowing joint damage and improving your functioning and sense of well-being. (Rheumatoid Arthritis, 2008b)
How is Rheumatoid Arthritis prevented?
RA is not prevented. However when diagnosed ealry on and with proper treatment you can reduce pain and joint inflamation. In turn you can improve your overall quality of life and possibly prevent permanent disability.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (2008). Retrieved February 5, 2008, from Web MD website:
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