About Rheumatoid Arthritis
It is not generally appreciated that arthritis is not a single condition but actually comprises over 200 different diseases that involve painful inflammation of the joints. One of the commonest and potentially disabling forms of arthritis is known as rheumatoid arthritis. In this article we will uncover some of the basics of rheumatoid arthritis so that you can more precisely understand the prevalence and causes of the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many parts of the body. This involves most joints as well as other parts of the body including the heart, lungs, and blood. Rheumatoid arthritis is prevalent in roughly 2.1 million Americans, accounting for approximately one in a hundred of all American adults. The disease is caused by an inflammation of the lining of a joint, which can cause the patient to feel pain and stiffness in the joint, as well as swelling, a feeling of warmth, and a red tint to the skin. In addition, inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the patient's tear ducts, salivary glands, and the linings of the human heart and lungs.
The disease may be life-long, with those afflicted experiencing waves of severity ranging from periods of practically no pain to intense suffering with little or no warning. The disease generally affects people between the ages 20 and 50, and is nearly three times more common in women than men. A person may be suffering from rheumatoid arthritis if they experience swelling, redness, tenderness, and a warmness of a joint. This feeling may be present on both joints, for example, if someone experiences a problem in their left elbow, their right elbow may also feel the same if rheumatoid arthritis is present. If afflicted, the pain and tenderness usually lasts for an extended period, and the patient may feel the same symptoms in other parts of the body.
The disease is actually caused by the body’s immune system. Sometimes the immune system may malfunction and mistake joint tissue as an invader. When that happens, the body will do its best to destroy the joint tissue, which leads to the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The root cause for this problem has not yet been discovered, but scientists in the field contend that genetics and heredity may be an important factor. When diagnosing a case of rheumatoid arthritis, doctors often employ the use of a blood test that checks for the presence of an antibody known as a ‘rheumatoid factor’. If the antibody is present, there is a good chance that the person is afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis. Between seventy and ninety percent of all rheumatoid arthritis sufferers have this agent in their bloodstream, so it can provide a pretty accurate assessment of a person’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors may also perform x-rays to determine exactly how much of the joint tissue has been damaged by the disease. If you experience symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that last for two weeks or longer, you should talk to your doctor to check if you have the disease.
More articles about Arthritis