Sunday, November 6, 2011

Rheumatoid Arthritis Basics

The name, Rheumatoid arthritis, is in many ways a misnomer. RA is so much more than arthritis. It is a disease that affects the every aspect of the person who suffers from it.

RA is a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by severe fatigue, fever, morning stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints. It can result in loss of function of the joints.
Autoimmune diseases are characterized by the body's immune system attacking healthy tissue. This results in a variety of symptoms such as flu-like symptoms including overall aching, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and weight loss in addition to the joint pain, stiffness and swelling.

The causes of RA are unknown but there is a genetic predisposition to developing this disease. Simply stated, it is not a directly inherited disease but the tendency to develop the disease may be inherited.

Those between the ages of thirty and fifty years old are most likely to develop RA though it can occur at any age, even in early childhood. RA affects women more often than men.

Early detection and aggressive, early treatment are key to lessening long-term joint damage. RA can begin damaging the bones within a year from the onset of symptoms.

Almost all joints of the body may be affected. RA may present differently in different people. For example, one person may present with knee involvement while another may present with hand involvement. Others, may present with a migratory arthritis. In other words, the arthritis may move from joint to joint.

RA usually develops symmetrically. If the sufferer has arthritis in one hand, the other hand will develop arthritis. In addition to arthritis, the person with RA may develop tendon involvement.

Systemic manifestations of RA are common. These include rheumatoid nodules, cardiovascular disease, anemia, chonic leg ulcers, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, osteoporosis, Sjogren's syndrome, pulmonary complications including pleurisy and rheumatoid lung nodules, pericarditis, Raynaud's syndrome. 

1) "Genetic Basis for Rheumatoid Arthritis." PubMed. December, 2005.


  1. I didn't know you had a blog Marcy. Consider me a follower.

  2. Hey Marcy, great post, well written and informative. I've been showing these to my family, it helps them understand.
    In fact this is so informative it only leaves me with one question - what does the G stand for? x

  3. I inadvertently deleted a comment. I have posted it below because for some reason, I cannot un-delete it.

    Adriana henry has left a new comment on your post "Rheumatoid Arthritis Basics":

    I have read your post but I do not agree with you that it is the result of auto immunity because autoimmunity does not affect just joint but it does affect on the whole body and the health of the person does not stabilize but in condition of pains and inflammation, a person must consult a physiotherapist.

  4. Adriana - you may not agree that RA is a result of autoimmunity, but many, many experts would disagree. You are correct that autoimmune disease do not affect just the joints. As the article says, it affects the entire body.