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.