What is rheumatoid arthritis?
RA is an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues. In RA, this causes inflammation of the joints that can cause bone erosion, deformities and disability. RA is also known as a systemic disease, as it can also affect internal organs. At present, we don’t know what causes RA, although theories include a genetic predisposition and a triggering event.
Uncontrolled RA comes with high levels of chronic pain, and damaged joints cause pain, as well. In addition, there is a significant fatigue factor. RA affects approximately 1% of the population – that’s about 1.3 million in the US – and affects women almost three times more often than men. It usually develops between the ages of 30 and 60 and can also affect children. You can read more in MyRACentral’s basics of RA area.
How is RA diagnosed?
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