Learn more about Rheumatoid Arthritis – its symptoms and causes
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (long-term) disease that can cause pain and swelling in your joints. It is an autoimmune disease where your immune system doesn’t recognise the tissue lining your joints to be part of your body and attacks it. When this happens, some joints become swollen and painful.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, affecting the whole body, including the organs. This can lead to problems with the heart, respiratory system, nerves and eyes. It is most common in people aged 75 years and over, although the onset of rheumatoid arthritis most frequently occurs in those aged 35–64. The prevalence of this disease is 1.5 times higher in women (2.3%) than men (1.5%).
What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
It usually starts slowly and often begins in small joints, such as in the fingers and toes.
- pain, warmth, swelling and tenderness in the affected joints;
- joint stiffness, which restricts movement, especially early in the morning (morning stiffness) or following periods of rest;
- occasional fevers;
- tiredness (fatigue); and
- weight loss.
Moreover, people with this condition often have different experiences. Some people have flare ups — times when their joints feel particularly sore — followed by months, or even years, with few symptoms. Other people may have symptoms that slowly get worse over time.
Causes and risk factors
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition, which means that it results from your immune system being overactive and attacking and damaging your own healthy tissue.
In RA, the immune system attacks the membrane lining your joints (the synovium), resulting in inflammation. Over time, this inflammation can lead to cartilage and bone erosion and joint damage and deformity.
The cause of the auto-immune reaction that results in rheumatoid arthritis is not fully understood. However, it is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including:
- genetic (inherited) factors;
- environmental factors (such as smoking, dietary factors and infections); and
- reproductive hormonal factors.
Rheumatoid arthritis can make your joints stiffer and less flexible, increasing your risk of falling. But early diagnosis and treatment of this condition improves the long-term outcome.
Are you suffering from this condition? One of our podiatrist can assist and give the right management protocols for your condition. ✅
Schedule an appointment here or you may call us at 44 (0) 207 101 4000. 📞
We hope you have a feetastic day! 👣☀️
-The Chelsea Clinic and Team