Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune, chronic, progressive, systemic disease that predominantly involves the joints. It typically causes heat, swelling and pain in the joints. It also affects other organs in the body and can cause low red blood cell count, lung inflammation and heart inflammation. It is one of the most common inflammatory rheumatic diseases worldwide.

In individuals genetically predisposed to the development of RA and autoimmunity, the immune system is triggered by exposure to smoking, bacteria, viruses and other environmental components.

Fever, sweating, malaise and weight loss are the first symptoms. Joint findings are polyarticular, symmetrical and deforming. There is pain, morning stiffness, swelling, temperature increase and loss of function in the joints. There is no redness. Finger joints, wrists, elbows, knees, shoulders and hips are most commonly involved. In the late period, buttonhole deformity, ulnar deviation and swan neck deformity may occur in the hands. Small pieces called rheumatoid nodules may form under the skin near the affected joint. These can be the size of a pea or a walnut. Other symptoms include vasculitis, pericarditis, Sjögren's syndrome, uveitis, anemia and amyloidosis.

The aim of treatment is to reduce pain, suppress inflammation, slow down or stop joint damage, and improve well-being and function. Non-steroid anti-inflammatories, glucocorticoids, synthetic and biological DMARDs can be used in the treatment.

References

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/. [Accessed: July 2023]

  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and More, https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/rheumatoid-arthritis. [Accessed: July 2023]

  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid-arthritis.html. [Accessed: July 2023]

The information provided on this site is not for diagnostic or medical advice, but for informational purposes. If you have or think you have a disease to be treated, consult a specialist physician.

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