Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems. It is an autoimmune disease which causes your immune system to attack your body. RA affects the lining of your joints which eventually results in bone erosion. The disease affects joints on both sides of the body, such as both hands, both wrists, or both knees. This symmetry helps to set it apart from other types of arthritis.
Symptoms of this disease include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, fatigue and sometimes fever. The disease affects everyone differently. Some people experience symptoms gradually over several years, while others experience them quickly. Early RA usually affects the smaller joints first, such as fingers and toes. when the disease progresses it begins to affect the larger joints, such as knees, wrist, elbows, ankles, hips and shoulders.
A physical examination of the symptomatic area is necessary, as well as evaluating medical and family history. Blood and imaging test are done to confirm the diagnoses.
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects nearly three times as many women have the disease as men. In women, rheumatoid arthritis most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. In men, it often occurs later in life. Having a family member with RA increases the odds of having the disease, although the majority of people with rheumatoid arthritis have no family history of the disease.
While there’s no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is aimed at reducing inflammation to the joints, relieving pain, minimizing any disability caused by pain, joint damage or deformity, and either slowing down or preventing damage to the joints. When a flare-up occurs the patient should rest as much as possible. Exerting very swollen and painful joints frequently results in worsening symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, immunosuppressant’s, different forms of therapy and sometimes surgery are the treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.