Rheumatoid Arthritis – Causes & Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis

What is Rheumatoid arthritis?

It is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints. It occurs when your body’s own immune system attacks cells and tissues in the joints. The condition is often associated with painful swelling in the joints – which eventually causes bone erosion and joint deformity.

Can rheumatoid arthritis affect other organs?

Yes, it is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect your skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, eyes, and other body systems.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

The signs and symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Loss of appetite, fever, and fatigue
  • Swollen joints that are warm and tender to touch
  • Bone erosion in the joints with swelling and slight deformity
  • First RA affects the smaller joints – fingers, hands, toes, and feet.
  • The progressive disease affects – the elbows, ankles, knees, wrists, shoulders, and hips.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis may also affect blood vessels, heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and skin
  • People who have this condition may experience alternate periods of flares and remission. Symptoms may vary in severity with swelling and pain that may disappear and then reappear.
  • As the disease progresses, joints deform and shift out of place.

What are the causes?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder wherein your immune system attacks your body’s own cells and tissues in the joints. The normal function of our immune system is to protect our body from diseases and infection. In the case of RA, the reverse happens. Doctors don’t have any clue as to what starts this process. Your genes and environmental factors may trigger the disease.

What are the risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis?

 Women are at increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis especially if they have a family history of the disease. The disease can strike at any age but commonly occurs in middle-aged women. Compared to men women are at increased risk. The other risk factors include excess body weight and smoking.

What are the complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis?

 The complications associated with rheumatoid arthritis include the following:

  Proneness to infections increases

  Lean mass to fat proportion is high in people who have RA

  Rheumatoid nodules form around elbows

  Sjogren’s syndrome develops – eyes and mouth become dry

  The risk of osteoporosis increases

   The risk of heart disease, lungs problems, and kidney issues increase

When to See a doctor?

Make an appointment with your doctor if you feel weakness, stiffness, and swelling in your joints with pain and discomfort.