What is rheumatoid?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that can cause joint pain, inflammation and other damage to your body.
The damage to the joints that RA can cause is usually on both sides.
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If one joint is affected in one arm or leg, it will likely affect the joint in the opposite arm or leg. This is how doctors can distinguish RA from osteoarthritis (OA) and other forms of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
RA is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints. These symptoms and signs can become worse during flares or exacerbations. Periods of remission are also known — these are when symptoms disappear completely.
The most common RA symptoms are the joints of the hands, wrists and knees. However, it can also affect tissues throughout the body, including the lungs, heart and eyes.
Some symptoms include:
- Pain or aching in more joints than one
- Steadiness in more than one joint
- Tenderness and swelling in more joints than one
- The same symptoms of joint pain can be found on both sides
- Deformities and loss of joint function
- low-grade fever
- Appetite loss
The severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe. Even if symptoms are intermittent, it is important to not ignore them. You and your healthcare provider will be better equipped to manage and treat RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes and Risk Factors
Rheumatoid-related arthritis can be caused by a variety of environmental and genetic factors.
RA is an autoimmune disorder. It is caused by your immune system attacking healthy tissues. The exact causes and triggers of RA remain unknown.
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Your immune system will send antibodies to your joints if you have RA. These antibodies attack the tissues of your joints and cause the lining cells (synovial) to divide, leading to inflammation. This process can cause damage to nearby bones, cartilage, and tendons.
If RA isn’t treated, the joint can become damaged, lose its alignment, and eventually, be destroyed.
Age. Adults in their 50s are most at risk for developing RA. For people born to a male, the risk of developing RA continues to rise with age. People who are assigned a female at birth during child-bearing years often develop RA.
Sex. Two to three times as likely are people who were born to a female than those who were born to a male.
Genetics. People with certain genes (called HLA class II genotypes) are more likely to get RA. People with certain genes, called HLA class II genotypes, are more likely to develop RA if they have obesity or are exposed by environmental factors such as smoking.
A history of live births. People who have never had a child may be more at risk than those who have.
Early exposure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that children whose mothers smoke have twice the chance of developing RA than adults. Smoking. Research shows that people who smoke cigarettes have a higher risk of getting RA.
Obesity. Obesity can increase your risk of developing RA. Diet. Increased risk of developing RA is linked to high levels of sodium, sugar (especially fructose), red and meat consumption, as well as iron.
Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis It can take some time to diagnose RA. Multiple lab tests may be required to confirm the clinical findings. To diagnose RA, your healthcare provider may use multiple tools.
They’ll first ask you about your symptoms and history. They will also conduct a physical examination of your joints. They will also perform a physical exam of your joints.
- Look out for redness and swelling
- Examining joint function and range
- To check for tenderness and warmth, touch the affected joints.
- examining for skin nodules
- Test your reflexes, and muscle strength
They will most likely refer to a specialist known as a rheumatologist if they suspect you have RA.
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Because RA can be confirmed by multiple tests, your healthcare provider may recommend several types of tests.