Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory, autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue, leading to joint pain, swelling and stiffness. RA mainly affects the joints, including the hands, wrists, and feet, but can also affect the eyes, lungs, heart, and skin. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints, and may reduce mobility.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Common symptoms of RA may include:

  • Pain in the joints
  • Stiffness in the joints, especially upon awakening or after sitting for a long period of time
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Redness and warmth in the joints
  • Decreased range of motion in the joints
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

The exact cause of RA is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. In RA, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, leading to inflammation, swelling, and pain. Researchers believe that genetics may play a role in RA, as it is much more common in people with a family history of the condition. There is also some evidence that exposure to certain environmental factors can increase the risk of RA.

Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is a chronic condition, but treatments can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Treatment typically includes medications (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) and lifestyle modifications (such as exercise, stress reduction, good nutrition, and proper rest). Surgery can also be used to repair or replace damaged joints.