What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Looking for answers for what is rheumatoid arthritis? Although osteoarthritis is more common, another form or arthritis impacts many people every year: rheumatoid arthritis (RA). What is RA and how does it differ from other forms of arthritis?


Rheumatoid Arthritis: Autoimmune Disease

In osteoarthritis (OA), the lining of the end of the bone, called the articular cartilage, becomes damaged. Osteoarthritis is most often caused by injury or the typical wear and tear of the joints as we age. Osteoarthritis is generally characterized by involvement of one joint.


rheumatoid arthritis joints



In contrast, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system malfunctions, attacking its own tissues, and creating chronic inflammation of the tissues that surround joints. Because rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, it affects multiple joints of the body as well as organs.

A common way of differentiating is having joint pain that is symmetrical. In osteoarthritis, one knee, one hip, or one shoulder will be painful. In rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain will affect joints on both sides of the body: both hands, both feet, and/or both knees. When symptoms are experienced in multiple joints, rheumatoid arthritis should be considered as a possible cause.

Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women (70%) then in men and is generally diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 50. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, although there is some evidence that there is a genetic component. Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is made via various blood tests (including evaluating rheumatoid factor ), x-rays, ultrasound or MRI, and synovial fluid analysis.

If you are asking what is rheumatoid arthritis, you may what to see a rheumatologist to help you determine the true nature of your symptoms.


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