Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Are Causes and Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. Many risk factors are involved in the abnormal activity of the immune system that characterizes rheumatoid arthritis. These risk factors include genetics (inherited genes), hormones (explaining why the disease is more common in women than men), and possibly infection by a bacterium or virus. Other environmental factors known to increase the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis include tobacco smoking, silica exposure, and periodontal (gum) disease.
Medical scientists have shown that alterations in the microbiome (altered levels of gut bacteria that normally inhabit the bowels) exist in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Emerging research shows that the microbiome has an enormous influence on our health, immune system, and many diseases, even those previously not directly linked to the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have shown different kinds of bacteria in the intestines of people with rheumatoid arthritis than in those who do not have rheumatoid arthritis. However, it remains unknown how this information can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment is probably not as simple as replacing missing bacteria, but this may explain why some individuals with rheumatoid arthritis feel better with various dietary modifications.
What Are Symptoms and Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
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Although rheumatoid arthritis can have many different symptoms, joints are always affected. Rheumatoid arthritis almost always affects the joints of the hands (such as the knuckle joints), wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and/or feet. The larger joints, such as the shoulders, hips, and jaw, may be affected. The vertebrae of the neck are sometimes involved in people who have had the disease for many years. Usually at least two or three different joints are involved on both sides of the body, often in a symmetrical (mirror image) pattern. The usual joint symptoms include the following:
These symptoms may keep someone from being able to carry out normal activities. General symptoms include the following:
The symptoms usually come on very gradually, although in some people they come on very suddenly. Sometimes, the general symptoms come before the joint symptoms, and an individual may think he or she has the flu or a similar illness.
The following conditions suggest that rheumatoid arthritis is quiet, referred to as "in remission":
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/17/2017
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatment
What was the treatment for your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Medications
What medications have been effective at treating your rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms and Signs
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - Diet
Have you made dietary changes that have improved your RA symptoms and signs? If so, please describe these changes.