Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-lasting inflammatory disease that triggers pain, warmth, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly associated with old age and is also often described as a medical condition that is commonly experienced by elders. But, this is not so. Anyone can suffer from any type of arthritis and must therefore; take steps to prevent it early on.
When this type of arthritis is not sought treatment for, it can become misshapen, damaged of misaligned over time. The tissue that lines the joints may also with time become thick and wear away the ligaments, bone and cartilage located nearby.
It has been observed by scientists and other experts that rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs in a symmetrical fashion, implying that when the left knee bone hurts, the right knee bone also begins to hurt.
The exact reason why rheumatoid arthritis develops in people is not known, though it seems to experts to be an autoimmune disease. When the immune system of a person does not operate the way it should in an average person, the white blood cells that usually attack viruses or bacteria attack the healthy tissues instead. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the healthy tissue that gets attacked is synovium or the joint tissue.
When the thin layer of cells lining the joints also called synovial membrane becomes inflamed, enzymes get released into the environment. Over time, enzymes and immune cells cause damage to the cartilage, ligaments and tendons near the joints.
Researches done in the past suggest that a certain virus is the trigger of faulty response of immune system that leads to rheumatoid arthritis. There is, however, no evidence that supports that a single virus can be the cause of the problem in all the patients. Moreover, it appears that certain people run a higher risk of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis because of genetics.
This type of arthritis is said to be the most disabling type of arthritis that exists. It, generally, affects more than just one type of joint at the same time. Joint that are commonly affected include those if the wrists, hands, ankles, feet, shoulders, elbows, knees, hips and neck. Once developed, it leads to loose and deformed joints that then inhibit mobility and lead to diminished strength.
In extreme cases, rheumatoid arthritis leads to painless lumps that are of the size of an acorn or pea, which are referred to as rheumatoid nodules. These nodules develop from under the skin and are especially seen around the elbows and even beneath the toes.
The pain that is caused by rheumatoid arthritis is, as reported by patients, dull in nature and is similar to that of a headache or toothache. Patients have reported to have experienced the pain more severe in the morning compared with the rest of the day. Also, it is not surprising if the stiffness lasts from 30 minutes to even an hour or more. It has also been noted by health bodies that women are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis compared with men.
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