The cause of
rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown. It is
considered autoimmune disease. The body's immune system normally
fights off foreign substances, like viruses. But in an
autoimmune disease, the immune system confuses healthy tissue
for foreign substances. As a result, the body attacks itself.
RA can occur
at any age. It usually occurs in people between 25 and 55. Women
are affected more often than men.
and the severity of the illness can vary considerably.
Infection, genes, and hormones may contribute to the disease.
affects joints on both sides of the body equally. Wrists,
fingers, knees, feet, and ankles are the most commonly affected.
usually begins gradually with fatigue, morning stiffness
(lasting more than one hour), widespread muscle aches, loss of
appetite, and weakness. Eventually, joint pain appears. When the
joint is not used for a while, it can become warm, tender, and
stiff. When the lining of the joint (synovium) becomes inflamed,
it gives off more fluid and the joint becomes swollen. Joint
pain is often felt on both sides of the body, and may effect the
wrist, knees, elbows, fingers, toes, ankle or neck. Additional
· Loss of
range of motion
Deformities of hands and feet
painless nodules under the skin (usually a
more severe disease)
Inflammation of the lung (pleurisy)
redness or inflammation
burning, itching, and discharge
may occur due to failure of the bone marrow to
enough new red cells.
destruction may occur within 1-2 years after the appearance of