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rheumatoid arthritis

Overview


Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. In some people, the condition can damage a wide variety of body systems, including the skin, eyes, lungs, heart and blood vessels.

An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body's tissues. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity

The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis is what can damage other parts of the body as well. While new types of medications have improved treatment options dramatically, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disabilities.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
  • Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite
  • Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first — particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet.

    As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.About 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don't involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many nonjoint structures, including

    • 1. Skin
    • 2. Eyes
    • 3. Lungs
    • 4. Heart
    • 5. Kidneys
    • 6. Salivary glands
    • 7. Nerve tissue
    • 8. Bone marrow
    • 9. Blood vessels

    Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission — when the swelling and pain fade or disappear. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.

    CAUSES OF Rheumatoid arthritis?

    Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround your joints.The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint.

    The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment.Doctors don't know what starts this process, although a genetic component appears likely. While your genes don't actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors — such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria — that may trigger the disease.

  • Segmental Leukoderma - The symptoms of segmental leukoderma start showing up at an early stage while affecting one side or segment of the body. This type progresses only for a few years.
  • Loss of colour in the mucous membranes (tissues that line the inside of the mouth)
  • Non-Segmental Leukoderma - Starting with a short-lived burst of discolouration, this type affects both sides of the body and expands with new cycles of pigment loss throughout the life.
  • Risk factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis include:

  • #Your sex Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
  • #Age Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins in middle age.
  • #Family history If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
  • #Smoking Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease. Smoking also appears to be associated with greater disease severity.
  • #Environmental exposures Although poorly understood, some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Emergency workers exposed to dust from the collapse of the World Trade Center are at higher risk of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • #Obesity People — especially women age 55 and younger — who are overweight or obese appear to be at a somewhat higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Health & Lifestyle Tips

    Good health is more than healthy eating and exercise, it’s about having a healthy lifestyle. Over 70 percent of American adults and 20 percent of our kids are obese or overweight. Taking good care of your body is necessary to prevent health problems from starting and from getting worse.