What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints.
Though the reason for this disease is still not clear, it results when the body's immune system begins to malfunction, and attacks synovial tissues or the lining of the joints. This causes inflammation that flares up resulting in severe pain and swelling around the joints. It may cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty while bending the joints.
The disease may affect anybody regardless of age, gender, and racial discrimination. It is believed that genetic and environmental triggering factors are involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. People possessing a certain gene called HLA-DR4 may develop rheumatoid arthritis when factors such as bacterial/viral infection and smoking trigger the disease.
The symptoms are characterized by periods of worse symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and malaise called 'flare-ups' and periods of 'remissions' when symptoms get better. This condition may involve at least five or more joints, particularly hands, wrist, feet, ankles, shoulders, and elbows.