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RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis

Updated on November 27, 2008

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints. Although the disease is associated mainly with the joints, it is not associated only with joints. RA can also inflame tissue surrounding the joints as well as internal organs. Although there are medications to treat the symptoms, RA is a chronic illness that has no cure as of yet. Patients can go days, months or even years with out symptoms (flare ups). None the less, this disease is serious and very painful. Patients may even suffer from irreparable joint damage. The symptoms and severity differs between person to person but, anyone can have this disease.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

The cause of RA is still unknown.

What are the signs and symptoms?

· Join pain, stiffness, and/or swelling

· Morning stiffness

· Redness in hands

· Joint deformity

· Joint tenderness

· Low grade fever

· Firm lumps under the skin

Keep in mind each person is affect by RA differently. Some may have only one or two symptoms, while others may have all. Some may have symptoms that are slightly uncomfortable and other may have debilitating pain.

How common is rheumatoid arthritis?

RA affects women two to three times as often as men. Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any age but can commonly start between ages 25–60. 1 out of 100 people are suffering with RA. Again, anyone can have this disease.

How do I get diagnosed?

If you are experiencing anything that would cause concern, you should speak with your physician at once. Your PCP may refer you to a Rheumatologist (Joint Doctor) for further examination. Your examination may include blood analysis, joint fluid analysis and x-ray. With that said there is no single test that can determine if a patient is suffering with RA. Just as the disease affects patients differently, it also is diagnosed differently. The key to managing this disease is to seek medical advice sooner rather than later.

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