Rheumatoid arthritis is a common condition that occurs when the body’s immune system, which is normally responsible for protecting the body, turns on itself and begins attacking the body’s own tissues, namely the joints. The end result causes inflammation in the lining of the joints which can lead to pain, swelling, and redness.
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Thankfully, there is an abundance of information available to help inform those who’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Most people will begin to notice their symptoms between the ages of 30 and 60, but the disease can affect any age group and race. However, it is important to note that women are more likely to be affected, so they should be even more alert. Due to the wide range of risk factors, we all have the potential to be at risk for this condition at some point in our lives.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the joints of the body. It can even damage body systems, such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. This internal conflict causes a great deal of discomfort as the tissue lining the inside of the joint thickens, which then leads to swelling and pain. Due to the fact that it affects the lining of the joint, rheumatoid arthritis can cause bone erosion and joint deformity.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are approximately 1.5 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Due to the fact that this condition is so prevalent, there are a wide range of treatments available that can help improve the quality of life of patients.
If the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis goes untreated, it can damage the cartilage, which is the layer of tissue that cushions the ends of the bones. When cartilage is lost, the space between the bones narrows, causing them to rub against each other or move out of place. Even just the thought of this makes me wince! The cells responsible for causing this inflammation will also create substances that can damage the bones.