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Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis: Introduction

Rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing, progressive disease that affects the joints of the body with episodes of painful inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis also affects other organs of the body and can result in the destruction of joints, disability, and in severe cases, life threatening complications.

The onset of rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, can occur at any age and affects women more than men. In general, the younger a person is when he or she develops rheumatoid arthritis, the more rapidly that disease progresses. About 10% of people with the disease become severely disabled. In addition, life expectancy may be shortened by about 3 to 7 years, and those with severe forms of rheumatic arthritis may die 10-15 years earlier than expected due to possible life threatening complications, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but it is classified as an autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune disease, the body's immune system mistakes healthy tissues as foreign and potentially dangerous invaders into the body and attacks them. This results in inflammation that eventually can destroy the affected joints and damage blood vessels and organs.

Rheumatic arthritis causes inflammation of the synovial membranes that line and protect the joints and allow smooth and free movement of joints. When the synovial membranes are inflamed, they become swollen, tender and warm, and are unable to move freely. This process eventually leads to deformity and destruction of the joints.

The way that the disease affects people varies greatly from person to person, but generally affects wrists, fingers, knees, feet, and ankles on both sides of the body. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be mild, moderate, or severe. For more details on symptoms, refer to symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Making a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Medical testing may include a wide variety of tests, including a rheumatoid factor test, complete blood test (CBC), C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, joint X-rays, and an analysis of the "lubricating" fluid in the joints (synovial fluid).

It is possible that a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be missed or delayed because the disease progresses gradually and early symptoms can be mild or assumed to be associated with other conditions, such as aging. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms and delay the destruction of joints. Treatment can include a combination of medication, physical therapy, and surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of rheumatoid arthritis....more »

Rheumatoid arthritis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis may be delayed or missed because early symptoms, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle aches, and weakness, can develop slowly. They can also be easily attributed to other conditions, such as aging, excessive exercise, general malaise, influenza, or fibromyalgia. ...more misdiagnosis »

Home Diagnostic Testing and Rheumatoid arthritis

Home medical tests possibly related to Rheumatoid arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis: Symptom Checker

Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Rheumatoid arthritis, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.

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Rheumatoid arthritis Treatments

There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but with early recognition and treatment, it is possible to minimize joint damage and complications of the disease. Because of the progressive, chronic nature of the disease, treatment also usually needs to be continuous, even lifelong in some cases. The most successful treatment plans usually use a multipronged approach, ...Rheumatoid arthritis Treatments

Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis may include:

Review further information on Rheumatoid arthritis Treatments.

Alternative Treatments for Rheumatoid arthritis

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Rheumatoid arthritis may include:

Stories from Users for Rheumatoid arthritis

Real-life user stories relating to Rheumatoid arthritis:

Rheumatoid arthritis: Animations

Medications or substances causing Rheumatoid arthritis:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Rheumatoid arthritis as a symptom. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Comorbid Symptoms

Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Rheumatoid arthritis may include these symptoms:

Causes of General Symptom Types

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Causes of Similar Symptoms to Rheumatoid arthritis

Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Rheumatoid arthritis:

Misdiagnosis and Rheumatoid arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis: Research Related Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Rheumatoid arthritis

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Rheumatoid arthritis: Related Rare Diseases

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Rheumatoid arthritis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:

Article Excerpts about Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It has several special features that make it different from other kinds of arthritis (see information box below). For example, rheumatoid arthritis generally occurs in a symmetrical pattern. This means that if one knee or hand is involved, the other one is also. The disease often affects the wrist joints and the finger joints closest to the hand. It can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints (see illustrations below). In addition, people with the disease may have fatigue, occasional fever, and a general sense of not feeling well (malaise). (Source: excerpt from Handout on Health Rheumatoid Arthritis: NIAMS)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disorder in which immune cells attack and inflame the membrane around joints. It also can affect the heart, lungs, and eyes. Of the estimated 2.1 million Americans with rheumatoid arthritis, approximately 1.5 million (71 percent) are women. (Source: excerpt from Connective Tissue Diseases: NWHIC)

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and... (Source: excerpt from Handout on Health Rheumatoid Arthritis: NIAMS)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disorder in which immune cells attack and... (Source: excerpt from Connective Tissue Diseases: NWHIC)

Definitions of Rheumatoid arthritis:

Chronic systemic disease, primarily of the joints, marked by inflammatory changes in the synovial membranes and articular structures, widespread fibrinoid degeneration of the collagen fibers in mesenchymal tissues, and by atrophy and rarefaction of bony structures; etiology is unknown, but autoimmune mechanisms have been implicated.
- (Source - Diseases Database)

A chronic autoimmune disease with inflammation of the joints and marked deformities; something (possibly a virus) triggers an attack on the synovium by the immune system, which releases cytokines that stimulate an inflammatory reaction that can lead to the destruction of all components of the joint
- (Source - WordNet 2.1)

Chronic systemic disease, primarily of the joints, marked by inflammatory changes in the synovial membranes and articular structures, widespread fibrinoid degeneration of the collagen fibers in mesenchymal tissues, and by atrophy and rarefaction of bony structures; etiology is unknown, but autoimmune mechanisms have been implicated.
- (Source - CRISP)

Detailed list of causes of Rheumatoid arthritis

The list below shows some of the causes of Rheumatoid arthritis mentioned in various sources:

How Common are these Causes of Rheumatoid arthritis?

This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Rheumatoid arthritis. Of the 17 causes of Rheumatoid arthritis that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:

  • 0 causes are "very common" diseases
  • 1 causes are "common" diseases
  • 0 causes are "uncommon" diseases
  • 0 causes are "rare" diseases
  • 1 causes are "very rare" diseases
  • 16 causes have no prevalence information.

Conditions listing medical symptoms: Rheumatoid arthritis:

The following list of conditions have 'Rheumatoid arthritis' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Rheumatoid arthritis or choose View All.

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Conditions listing medical complications: Rheumatoid arthritis:

The following list of medical conditions have Rheumatoid arthritis or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.

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What are the alternative names for Rheumatoid arthritis:

Rheumatoid disease, Felty's syndrome, RA
- (Source - Diseases Database)

Classifications of Rheumatoid arthritis:

Medical Conditions associated with Rheumatoid arthritis:

Joint pain (773 causes), Arthritis-like symptoms (764 causes), Pain (6458 causes), Joint symptoms (1430 causes), Inflammatory symptoms (1736 causes), Skeletal symptoms (4109 causes), Sensations (6520 causes), Brain symptoms (2787 causes), Neurological symptoms (9575 causes), Sensory symptoms (7134 causes), Nerve symptoms (9132 causes), Musculoskeletal symptoms (6264 causes), Common symptoms (8589 causes), Body symptoms (5672 causes), Head symptoms (10192 causes)

Symptoms related to Rheumatoid arthritis:

Arthritis (224 causes), Joint symptoms (1430 causes), Joint pain (773 causes), Joint swelling (128 causes), 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Cartilaginous, Chromosome 22q deletion, Chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, Common Variable Immunodeficiency

Medical articles on signs and symptoms:

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Rheumatoid arthritis

Medical research papers related to Rheumatoid arthritis include:

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Related medical articles from our Disease Center for Rheumatoid arthritis:

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