Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory arthritis in which joints of the hands and feet, are inflamed, which results in joint pains, swelling and frequent destruction of joints. Small joints of the limbs become painful and have stiffness which persists for about 60 minutes on awakening and after inactivity. Due to weakness, fever and damage to other organs may also occur. RA affects both sides of the body. For example, if a joint is affected in one arm or leg then a similar joint of the other arm or leg will be affected too. This is one of the ways RA is identified by the doctors from other forms of arthritis like Osteoarthritis (OA).
Rheumatoid arthritis develops in about 1% in the whole world’s population. Women are affected 2 times more than men. It appears in the age group between 35 to 50years. A similar disease in children may occur which is known as Juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The cause of Rheumatoid arthritis is not known, it is considered as an autoimmune disease. The components of the immune system attack the soft tissues and will also attack the connective tissue in other parts of the body such as blood vessels and lungs. Due to this, gradually the bone, cartilage and the ligaments of the joints wear away causing deformity. Many unknown factors like viral infections and smoking play a vital role.