Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemin inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes pain and disfigurement of peripheral joints. The disease may alternate between “flares” and periods of remission, but is generally progressive.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
What are the signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Common signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis includes:
Join inflammation or stiffness
Morning stiffness lasting more than one hour
Arthritis of more than three joints
Cartilage breakdown and/or bone erosion
What are the causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The direct cause of why the immune system attacks the joints is unknown. However, it appears that your genes may play a role. Other factors that may contribute to developing this disease are:
Infection (caused by an unknown bacteria or virus)
Environmental triggers (e.g. cigarette smoke or pollutants)
How do I know if I have Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Diagnosing RA can take time and may require multiple pathology tests to confirm. Your healthcare provider will use several tools to diagnose RA. Your doctor is likely to ask you about your medical and family history and perform a physical exam to assess your joints. Your practitioner may also refer for the following tests to assist with diagnosis:
Rheumatoid Factor (RF)
Antinuclear antibody test (ANA)
C-reactive protein test