Being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis can be confusing. It is a disease that causes chronic pain in the joints. This pain comes from the immune system attacking, rather than protecting, the lining tissues of the joints. This tissue or synovium lubricates the joints and allows them to move and bend without any friction or pain. When the synovium is attacked by the immune system it becomes inflamed and causes pain.
If you feel symptoms of RA you should talk to your doctor about it. Ignored symptoms can lead to damaged cartilage. Cartilage is the tissue that protects the ends of bones and if this is damaged it can lead to loose, painful joints. Joints can become deformed and lose their mobility. This type of damage is irreversible and should be caught and treated as soon as possible.
About 1% of people are affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but what is the difference between it and ‘normal’ arthritis? Arthritis can affect one place but rheumatoid arthritis has a symmetry to it – both your hands, or both your knees will be affected. This is how doctors can distinguish.
Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in women between the ages of 40 and 60. Men generally see symptoms later on in life. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the eyes, lungs, heart and nerves. Because RA can affect pretty much any body system, it is referred to as a systemic disease. This means that RA can affect the entire body.
1.5 million people in America are affected by RA. If you have a family member that is affected by the disease you are more prone to developing it too so you should try to live the healthiest life you can, and also keep an eye out for any symptoms. Remember how important it is to catch them early.
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