RA is abbreviation for rheumatoid arthritis. This is a chronic inflammatory disorder. Usually it affects your joints but it can affect more than them. In some people this condition can damage a wide variety of body systems such as blood vessels, heart, lungs, eyes and skin. When you immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s tissues, then occurs the autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike the wear and tear damage to osteoarthritis, this condition can affect the lining of your joints which can cause you a painful swelling that will result in joint deformity and bone erosion. The inflammation which is associated with this condition also can affect other parts of your body. There are some types of medications which have improved the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis but also there are some cases when this condition leads to physical disabilities.
Here are the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:
- Fatigue, fever and weight loss
- Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
- Tender, warm and swollen joints
If you have early rheumatoid arthritis, then this affects your smaller joints first (these are the joints that attach your toes to your feet and your fingers to your hands). When this disease progresses, then the symptoms of it can spread to your shoulders, hips, elbows, ankles, knees and wrists. In the most cases when you have arthritis, then the symptoms of this condition are occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body. About 40% of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis are having some signs and symptoms that do not involve their joints. This condition can affect many nonjoint structures of your body such as
- Blood vessels
- Bone marrow
- Nerve tissue
- Salivary glands
The signs and symptoms of this condition can vary in their severity and also they can come and go. When the pain and swelling disappear or fade, then you can have periods increased disease activity (these periods are known as flares) that is alternating with periods of relative remission. There are some cases when this condition can be a reason why joints shift out of place and they can deform. If you have persistent swelling and discomfort in your joints, then you should talk with your doctor.
Causes: When your immune system attacks the synovium (which is the lining of the membranes that surround the joints), then you have rheumatoid arthritis. This inflammation thickens the synovium which can eventually destroy the bone and cartilage within the joint. The ligaments and tendons that hold your joints together stretch and weaken. This is a reason why your joints gradually are losing their alignment and shape. Doctors do not know what the reason for having arthritis is but they think that genes are also playing a major role in this part. When your genes are not a cause for this condition, then doctors are suspecting in bacteria and viruses (which are environmental factors) that are a cause for the rheumatoid arthritis.
Risk factors: There are some factors which can increase your risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis such as
- Age: This condition can occur at any age but people who are between 40 and 60 years are having increased chances to get it.
- Your sex: There are many studies in which is said that women have increased chances to get rheumatoid arthritis compared to men.
- Smoking: People who smoke cigarettes are having increased chances to get rheumatoid arthritis. Also people who smoke cigarettes have increased chances to have rheumatoid arthritis with symptoms that are more severe compared with nonsmokers.
- Obesity: People who are obese or overweight are having increased chances to get rheumatoid arthritis. This is very severe case in women who are aged 55 or younger.
- Environmental exposures: There are some environmental exposures which can increase the risk of getting arthritis such as exposure to silica or asbestosis. Also there are some cases in which people who were exposed to dust have noticed increased chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis.