Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the joints. This disease is categorized as an autoimmune disease because people suffering from this condition have antibodies in their blood that target their own body tissues. As a result, the joints are mistakenly attacked by the body's own immune system. The condition is likely to occur in people between the ages of 40 and 50. It is very common in the US and not less than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with this disease. In fact, it is the most common type of arthritis in the US. Women are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis than men at a ratio of 3:1.
Rheumatoid arthritis can attack various organs and tissues in the human body. However, it mainly attacks synovial joints in the hands, wrists, ankles, and knees. Common arthritis symptoms include fever, weight loss, malaise, as well as muscle ache and pain. People suffering from arthritis are also likely to experience the feeling of tiredness, lack of sleep, the inability to use the hand or walk properly, and difficulty in moving their joints especially in the morning.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include the ones mentioned previously as well as other specific signs which differentiate this type of arthritis from other types such as osteoarthritis and gouty arthritis. Besides the above mentioned symptoms, people with this disease will suffer from joint pain, joint stiffness, joint swelling and joint tenderness. They will also feel warmness around the affected joints. The pains are likely to occur symmetrically. For example, if you feel pain in one knee, you will also feel pain in the other. The sufferers can also find lumps under their skin, usually on the hands or elbows, which are called the rheumatoid nodules. This type of arthritis can also cause joint space narrowing and bone erosion as well. Other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms also include anemia, increasing ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), ulnar deviation, rheumatoid factor, swan neck, and hand deformity.
Hand deformity is a common occurrence in people suffering from this condition. Hand deformities in people with this disease occur when ulnar deviation happens. Ulnar deviation is the condition when the fingers deviate towards the ulna (the inner bone of the forearm). The disease can also prevent the fingers from functioning properly due to ruptured tendons. As mentioned before, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that it can't be cured. However, surgery may be helpful to correct deformities caused by this disease.