Basics of Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks cells and tissues around the joints specifically. The immune system fails to recognize self-cells. This can result to swelling and paint to occur at the joints.

Who is affected by RA?

According to (source), approximately 1.5 million people United States have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Women are at a higher risk than men, as they are 3 times more likely to develop RA more than men.

Who is affected by RA?

RA is more commonly seen amongst individuals between the ages of 30-60 years old. Researchers believe that having a family member with RA increases the chances of developing. RA. However, there is no exact causation, as people can develop RA with no family history of disease.

What are the Risk Factors of RA?

Risk Factors includes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Genetic Makeup
  • Smoking

What is the cause of RA?

The exact cause of RA is not fully understood, however, research supports that the abnormal response of the immune system is due to both environmental triggers and hormones.


According to , people with the specific gene marker called HLA share epitope have a greater chance of developing RA than those without the genetic marker. The HLA genetic site controls immune responses. However, not all people with this gene develop RA, and not all RA patients have this gene.

What are the Symptoms of RA?

Common Symptoms of RA include:

  • Joint Pain, tenderness, or swelling/stiffness for six weeks or longer
  • Morning Stiffness (30 minutes or longer)
  • Small joints (wrists, certain joints of hands and feet)
  • Same joints on each side of body are affected (Symmetrical)

How is RA diagnosed?

Rheumatoid Arthritis can be difficult to diagnose, because early signs and symptoms are similar to other diseases and conditions. In other words, there is no specific test for RA.

Your doctor may give you a physical exam to check your joints for tenderness and swelling, as well as inflammation.

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Rheumatoid Factor (RF) is an antibody found in about 80% of people with Rhuematoid Arhtitis. Your doctor may give you a blood test check for these antibodies. However, because RF can be found in other inflammatory diseases, it is not an entirely sure sign to check for RA.



There is no cure for RA, however, treatment is given to alleviate common RA symptoms. This includes inflammation and prevent joint and organ damage.

Your doctor may have you take Nonsterodial Anti-inflammatory Drugs NSAIDs, which can be prescribed or bought over-the-counter. A common NSAID is ibuprofen.

In addition, corticosteroid medications (such as prednisone) can be used as an anti-inflammatory medication. However, according to Mayo Clinic, side effects of steroidal medicine can cause thinning of bones and weight gain. This is used sparingly by doctors and at a lowest dosage as possible.

Alternative Treatment:

In addition, your doctor may have you treat your condition through physical and occupational therapy. These session will teach you exercises to keep your joints flexible and alleviate the pain.

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