What is it?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that causes pain, swelling or stiffness of the joints in the body. The cause of the disease is unknown, but it is known to involve over activity of the immune system (autoimmune disease). In some cases, the disease may also involve non-joint organs - the heart, lungs or eyes. Treating the disease early can prevent damage to the organs involved (e.g. prevent deformity of the joints).

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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- RA
- Pauciarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Rheumatoid Lung
- Rheumatoid fibrosing alveolitis
- Rheumatoid pneumoconiosis
- Felty's Syndrome
- Monoarticular Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Signs & symptoms

The main joints that are affected by rheumatoid arthritis are the wrists and the joints of the fingers. It may also affect the shoulders and knees. The symptoms usually appear symmetrically and in several joints at the same time. Other symptoms can include weight loss, fever, weakness or fatigue.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is mainly based on physical examination and blood tests.
- Physical examination: The doctor will examine the joints involved and ask questions about accompanying symptoms.
- Blood tests: will usually include a blood count, inflammation markers (CRP, ESR) and antibodies typical of the disease (rheumatoid factor, anti CCP).
- In most cases, an X-ray of some of the joints will be needed, to monitor the progression of the disease or to rule out other possible diagnoses.

Treatment

Your doctor will usually offer treatment at an early stage in order to prevent long-term damage. Treatment options include:
- Adjusting lifestyle - Adherence to physical activity to activate the joints, maintaining a balanced weight and avoiding smoking.
- Medication - There are many drugs used to treat the disease (for example - anti-inflammatory drugs, biological drugs, steroids), and the choice of the appropriate drug is made depending on the nature and severity of the disease.
- Medical follow-up - it is necessary to regularly monitor the response to treatment, and to undergo routine testing of non-articular organs, such as the heart, to rule out their involvement in the disease.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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