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Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Updated on March 12, 2011

Rheumatoid arthritis is also commonly referred to as rheumatoid disease. It is an autoimmune disease that is on the rise in the United States and other industrialized nations, but its exact cause is now known.  Rheumatoid arthritis causes increased levels of inflammation in the body that primarily affect the bones and joints. The increased inflammation is what is known as an autoimmune response. It occurs when an overactive immune system begins attacking cells of the body. Normal cells and tissues of the body are perceived as invaders.

There are many different kinds of autoimmune diseases that can affect all parts of the body, including the skin, nerve cells, the brain, and even the heart and lungs. Diagnosis of many of these kinds of autoimmune conditions has been on the rise for the past couple of decades, but researchers are not sure as to the reason why. Rheumatoid arthritis is known as a systemic illness because it attacks more than one organ. Rheumatoid arthritis can go on for years unnoticed, but in many cases, it becomes progressively worse over the course of several years, leading to joint destruction, functional disability, and destruction of cartilage, bone and ligaments. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and invasive illness.

The word arthritis means that your joint or joints are inflamed. Rheumatoid arthritis is different from the more common form of arthritis that many people experience with age. Symptoms of this condition include swelling, pain, stiffness, and redness in the joints. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever, loss of energy, and a lack of appetite. This disease is very common and affects more than 1.3 million people in the USA alone. According to current medical data, it is more common in women then it is in men. It is believed that rheumatoid arthritis is genetically inherited, but research has been limited until the past decade. Some recent evidence suggests that environmental factors may play a role. 

A study done at Imperial College of London revealed variations in white blood cells that were beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis and white blood cells that were actually the cause of inflammation and destruction. A particular protein was found in the white blood cells of people with certain autoimmune conditions. This protein is called IRF 5.  Researchers believe that blocking this protein may lead to a cure for many popular autoimmune diseases today. They also believe that boosting levels of this protein in the blood will help treat people with weak, compromised or even damaged immune systems.

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