Rheumatoid Arthritis - Symptoms & Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

By: Corwin Brown

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. More women than men get rheumatoid arthritis. It often starts between ages 25 and 55. You might have the disease for only a short time, or symptoms might come and go. The severe form can last a lifetime.

RA remains a serious disease and one that can vary widely in symptoms and outcomes. Even so, recent advances in treatment have made it possible to stop or at least slow the progression of joint damage. Many of these new treatments have emerged in the last 10 years because of exciting and rapidly advancing research into the fundamentals of inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory form of arthritis that causes joint pain and damage. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of your joints (synovium) causing swelling that can result in aching and throbbing and eventually deformity. Sometimes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms make even the simplest activities - such as opening a jar or taking a walk - difficult to manage.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stiffness: The joint does not move as well as it once did. Its range of motion (the extent to which the appendage of the joint, such as the arm, leg, or finger, can move in different directions) may be reduced. Typically, stiffness is most noticeable in the morning and improves later in the day.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually causes problems in several joints at the same time. Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first - the joints in your wrists, hands, ankles and feet. As the disease progresses, your shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, jaw and neck can also become involved.

Nodules: These are hard bumps that appear on or near the joint. They often are found near the elbows. They are most noticeable on the part of the joint that juts out when the joint is flexed.

Rashes may suddenly appear and disappear, developing in one area and then another. High fevers that tend to spike in the evenings and suddenly disappear are characteristic of systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Swelling and pain in the joints must occur for at least 6 weeks before a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is considered. The inflamed joints are usually swollen and often feel warm and "boggy" when touched. The pain often occurs symmetrically but may be more severe on one side of the body, depending on which hand the person uses more often.

Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body's defence mechanisms go into action when there's no threat and start attacking the joints and sometimes other parts of the body. It's not yet known why the immune system acts in this way in some people.

To effectively manage and minimize the effects of arthritis, an early and accurate diagnosis is essential. By understanding the symptoms and characteristics of each type of JRA, you can help your child maintain an active, productive lifestyle.

Chronic inflammation can cause damage to body tissues, cartilage and bone. This leads to a loss of cartilage and erosion and weakness of the bones as well as the muscles, resulting in joint deformity, destruction, and loss of function. Rarely, rheumatoid arthritis can even affect the joint that is responsible for the tightening our vocal cords to change the tone of our voice, the cricoarytenoid joint. When this joint is inflamed, it can cause hoarseness of voice.

Rheumatoid arthritis is twice as common in women than in men. This may be due to the effects of oestrogen (a female hormone). Research has suggested that oestrogen may be involved in the development and progression of the condition. However, this has not been conclusively proven.

Rheumatology
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Rheumatology
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles