What You Should Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis

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By Topic Insight Staff

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the lining of the joints. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about rheumatoid arthritis with a search online right now, which could help you spot early symptoms.

This common condition can lead to pain and swelling, causing individuals to retreat from daily activities they used to enjoy. Thankfully, there is an abundance of information available to help those who’ve been diagnosed.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the joints of the body.1 It can even damage body systems, such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.

This internal conflict causes a great deal of discomfort as the tissue lining the inside of the joint thickens, which then leads to swelling and pain. Due to the fact that it affects the lining of the joint, rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone erosion and joint deformity.

Symptoms

This condition affects all patients differently, but the most common warning signs are joint pain, warmth, swelling, and stiffness (especially in the morning or after long periods of sitting), as well as fever, fatigue, weight loss, and decreased appetite. The symptoms can range from mild to severe.2 WebMD also explains that the symptoms can come on gradually over the span of several years or happen quickly over a short period of time.3

One of the defining characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis is that any damage caused by this condition on one side of the body is likely going to be mimicked on the other side of the body. For example, if it occurs in the right hand, it will most likely also be present in the left hand. The same goes for knees or wrists. Healthline explains that this is how doctors typically distinguish between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.4

Causes and Risk Factors

It’s unclear what the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is, but it seems to be triggered by something that causes the immune system to attack the joints, and the body’s organs in some cases. WebMD says some experts believe it is caused by a virus or bacteria (particularly ones associated with periodontal disease) or a history of viral infection with the Epstein-Barr virus.

Other theories are a little more simple. For example, some suggest that smoking is what leads to rheumatoid arthritis or it could be caused by obesity, as well as any trauma to the bones, such as a fracture, dislocation of a joint, or ligament damage, explains Healthline.

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