What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic, autoimmune disease. There is swelling, pain, stiffness and loss of mobility in various joints of the body.
Who can get affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects about 1.3 million Americans. It usually affects people between the ages of 30 and 50 but can also affect children and the elderly. Women are more likely to get affected than men
What are the symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis?
The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is body stiffness in the morning that lasts for more than an hour. This stiffness can occur after any prolonged period of inactivity. There is swelling and pain especially in the joints of the wrists and knuckles, knees, ball of the foot. Swelling can also occur in the cervical spine, jawa, elbows, shoulders, and the small bones of the inner ear. Though not common, small lumps can form under the skin generally near the elbow.
There can be fluid retention in the ankles and behind the knee. Rheumatoid arthritis can also be accompanies by fatigue, weight loss and fever.
What causes Rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by various factors including an overactive autoimmune response, genetic reasons, infections or hormones. The body has immune cells called B cells and T cells which produce antibodies if any foreign matter is detected. These antibodies trigger inflammation that is the body's natural defense. In rheumatoid arthritis, the B cells and T cells are hyperactive. Bacteria and viruses may trigger the autoimmune system as well. The exact cause of developing rheumatoid arthritis is not known.
How is Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?
Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are often similar to other conditions such as osteoarthritis, infectios arthritis, gout and other diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Various blood tests such as
Rheumatoid Factor, Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test, C-Reactive Protein, Anti-CCP Antibody Test are used to diagnose and determine the severity of rheumatoid arthritis. X-rays, Dexa Scans, MRIs and Ultrasound may also be used to detect bone loss.