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Causes, Effects, and…
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Causes, Effects, and Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

March 27, 2017
Doctor examining a hand.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It often starts in the small joints of the hands and feet, and usually, affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Approximately 1% of the population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Women are affected more often than men with a radio up to 3 to 1. Symptoms most commonly develop between the ages of 40 and 60. The exact cause of RA is not known. The most common symptoms of RA are pain, swelling, and stiffness, which usually appear in multiple joints. As the disease progresses, just walking and standing can become painful. Deformities of the hands and feet are the more obvious signs of RA. The joints of the body are covered with a lining, synovium, which lubricates joints for ease of movement. RA causes the over-activity of this lining. It swells and becomes inflamed, destroying the joint. The immune system attacks its own tissues, damaging normal tissue such as cartilage and ligaments and softens bone. Weakened ligaments can cause joint deformities. Softening of the bone can result in stress fractures and the collapse of the bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is diagnosed by taking a look at medical history and by performing a physical examination.

The DOC orthopedic specialist looks for swelling and warmth around the joint, pain with motion, lumps under the skin, joint deformities, and the inability to fully stretch or bend the joint. A blood test may reveal an antibody called rheumatoid factor. Other diagnostic tests that help confirm the diagnosis include X-rays, CT scan, and MRI to show joint damage. Although there is no cure for RA, many treatment options are available to help manage pain and stay active. A team of healthcare professionals, DOC orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists, and physical and occupational therapists, often treats RA. The orthopedic treatment of RA depends on the location of the pain and the extent of cartilage damage. The DOC orthopedist will work with the patient guest to develop the best-customized care plan.

For more information on the cost of care, click here.


Arthritis Foundation


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