Unlike several of the other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis generally affects the joints on each side of a person’s body and not just one side. This is a factor that is taken into consideration when physicians are diagnosing patients with this type of arthritis. Other than just the joints of the body, this type of arthritis can sometimes also affect the heart, blood, eyes, nerves, skin, heart, and lungs as well.
Every patient that has rheumatoid arthritis is not always affected the same. There are some people that go into remission after experiencing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for just a short period of time. In some cases the progression of the disease can occur rapidly, and in others there may be a gradual development that takes place over many years. A few of the common symptoms that most patients experience when they have rheumatoid arthritis includes the following:
- Feeling fatigued
- Swelling and pain felt in their joints
- After sitting down for long period of time and when they first wake up, a lot of patients experience stiffness
How common is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There are only about one percent of men and women in the United States that are affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It is a disease that occurs as much as three times more in men than it does in women. Research has also shown that men suffer from much more severe symptoms than women that are diagnosed with this form of arthritis. A majority of patients do not begin to notice symptoms until they have reached middle age. It is possible however for people of the elderly generation and for young kids to also acquire this disease.
Who is more likely to Suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There is not a known cause for rheumatoid arthritis. It is thought however to be caused by a combination of factors that include the hormones, the environment, and genetics. It appears that when a person has rheumatoid arthritis, their joints and on some occasions the organs, are attacked by their own immune system. It is not clear what causes this trigger in the immune system. Some specialists believe that cigarette smoking is culprit for causing this disease. There are others that believe a person’s joints are attacked by the immune system because of bacteria or a virus. Researchers also believe that this form of arthritis can be inherited.
What Takes Place within the Body When a Person Has Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Immune cells that are known as synovium begin to make their way into the joints and the tissue that lines the joints whenever the immune system is triggered. Inflammatory substances are produced by the immune cells, therefore causing inflammation within the joint and its lining. It also causes irritation, swelling, and cartilage is often also worn down. When the joints are inflamed they generally begin producing an even larger amount of joint fluid.
This is a condition that can cause an extreme amount of discomfort and pain. Much of this is due to space narrowing between bones that occur when cartilage is worn down. As problems like this worsen, they can actually begin rubbing against one another. Erosions or bone damage can also occur when expansion of the joint lining occurs.