Rheumatoid Arthritis

A chronic inflammatory disorder that occurs when the immune system attacks the synovium, the lining of membranes surrounding the joints. Most often affects the small joints in the hands and feet, causing a painful swelling that can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

Symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Red and puffy hands
  • Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on the arms
  • Fatigue
  • Morning stiffness
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Smaller joints affected the most

Common causes:

  • Immune system attacks the synovium, causing it to thicken. The thickened synovium eventually invades and destroys the cartilage and bone within the joint
  • Genetic component can cause susceptibility toward infections with certain viruses and bacteria

Risk Factor:

  • Gender - women are at higher risk
  • Age - most common between the ages of 40 and 60
  • Family history - possibility of inheriting a predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking - increases risk, while quitting can reduce risk