Rheumatoid Arthritis FAQs
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
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Q:The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. True or False?
A:False. Arthritis is a general term that means inflammation in a joint. Joint inflammation is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, pain, as well as stiffness within the joint.
Q:Why is rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is different from some other forms of arthritis?
A:Rheumatoid arthritis is different from other forms of arthritis because it affects the right and left sides of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that typically occurs in joints on both sides of the body. This symmetry helps distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from many other types of arthritis.
Q:Rheumatoid arthritis is more severe in whom: Men or Women?
A:Men. While rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times more common in women than in men, men tend to be more severely affected by the disease.
Q:Rheumatoid arthritis is most likely caused by what factor?
A:Genetics. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.
Q:People with rheumatoid arthritis experience the most stiffness at night. True or False?
A:False. In people with RA, muscle and joint stiffness are usually most prominent in the morning and after periods of inactivity.
Q:Rheumatology is the branch of medicine that involves the study of what?
A:The immune system, Musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) system and Rheumatic diseases. Rheumatology refers to the medical study of diseases that cause inflammation and pain in muscles or joints. Many rheumatic diseases feature immune system abnormalities. Therefore, rheumatology also involves the study of the immune system. A doctor of this specialty is called a rheumatologist.
Q:Surgery is the only way to treat RA. True or False?
A:False. There are many different ways to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Treatments include medications, rest and exercise, and surgery to correct damage to the joint. The optimal type of treatment will depend on several factors, including the person's age, overall health, medical history, and severity of the arthritis.
Q:Rheumatoid arthritis can be cured if diagnosed and treated early. True or False?
A:False. There is not yet a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, although early, aggressive treatment has been shown to help prevent disability and optimize function.
Q:The sudden appearance or worsening of RA symptoms is referred to as a(n) what?
A:Flare. A rheumatoid flare (or "flare-up") refers to pain, inflammation, redness, or tenderness that intensifies rapidly, suddenly becoming worse or more painful.
Q:With rheumatoid arthritis, deformity of the joints is caused by chronic inflammation. True or False?
A:True. In some patients with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation leads to the destruction of the cartilage, bone, and ligaments, causing deformity of the joints. Damage to the joints can occur early in the disease and progress over time.
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