Arthritis means inflammation in a joint. That inflammation causes redness, warmth, swelling, and pain within the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that 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.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition also can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.
It is autoimmune disorder, that is it occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues.
What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- Tender, warm, swollen joints
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Fatigue, fever and weight loss
Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first — particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet.
As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.
People who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don’t involve the joints – Skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission — when the swelling and pain fade or disappear. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.
Causes of Rheumatoid arthritis ?
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround your joints.
The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint.
The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment.
Doctors don’t know what starts this process, although a genetic component appears likely. While your genes don’t actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors — such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria — that may trigger the disease.
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