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Rheumatoid arthritis affects an estimated 293,000 people, or one person in 100. Rheumatoid Arthritis causes inflammation in the lining of the joints or other internal organs. This inflammation separates Rheumatoid Arthritis from other more common forms of arthritis, like osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect people of all ages from little kids to old people. It most commonly appears between the ages of 25 and 50. Rheumatoid Arthritis affects women three times more often than men. It is a chronic disease, affecting many joints throughout the body, and resulting in damage to cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments, not just joints like I thought. Although there is no cure or prevention for Rheumatoid Arthritis, there are ways to help relieve the pain and keep people active, happy, and productive.

Rheumatoid Arthritis may start gradually or with a sudden, severe attack with flu-like symptoms, pretty weird for a bone disease. Pain and swelling of the joints, usually symmetrical, is the first sign. Stiffness in the morning, of joints and muscles may also be a telltale sign of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis brings general weakness and fatigue to the affected person. Fever and weight loss are the most severe and rare symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms vary from person to person. In some people the disease will be mild with periods of activity or joint inflammation, called flare-ups, and inactivity, called remissions. In other cases the disease will be continuously active and appear to get worse over time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis causes the synovial lining of the joints to become inflamed. Researchers and doctors believe that the inflammation is triggered by the body’s immune system failing to recognize body tissue as normal, therefore attacking it and damaging the joint. The damage becomes worse because the immune system’s attack does not stop, and results in destruction of cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments that can lead to permanent deformity and disability.

One important way to distinguish Rheumatoid Arthritis from other forms of arthritis is by the pattern of the joints being attacked. For example, Rheumatoid Arthritis affects the wrists and many of the hand joints but usually not the joints that are closest to the fingernails. Other joints commonly affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis include the elbows, shoulders, neck, jaw, feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Other than the neck, the spine usually is not directly affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Along with the painful joints, Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause inflammation in other body tissues and organs. In 20% of cases, lumps called rheumatoid nodules develop under the skin, often over bones in certain areas. These occur most often around the elbow but can be found elsewhere on the body and even in internal organs. Occasionally, people with Rheumatoid Arthritis will develop inflammation of the membranes that surround the heart and lung or inflammation of the lung tissue itself. Inflammation of tear glands and salivary glands results in dry eyes and dry mouth. Rarely, Rheumatoid Arthritis causes inflammation of the blood vessels, which affects the skin, nerves and other organs.

No one knows for sure what causes Rheumatoid Arthritis, although scientists are well on their way to understanding the events that lead to unusual responses of the body’s immune system. Many researchers believe that Rheumatoid Arthritis might be triggered by an infection, but there is presently no proof to prove them right or to prove them wrong. It is possible that a germ that everyone is exposed causes the body’s immune system to react abnormally in people that have a defective gene or something.

Although there is no cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis today, a lot can be done to manage this disease. A variety of treatments exist to treat the symptoms resulting in less pain, stiffness and easier movement. Four major treatment approaches are recognized in the management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: medications, physical exercises, joint protection, and lifestyle changes, and surgical. However none of this will work unless the affected person give their 100% effort.

From all I have learned through this report, the most impacting fact is the pain that is suffered. I am glad that I am not cursed with this infliction. I truly pity those who have been cursed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and hope a cure is found so their ailing will be no longer a problem. We should all say a prayer for them.

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