Doctor's Notes on Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (also termed RA) is a chronic joint disease that also potentially affects internal organs of the body. No matter what organ may be affected by RA, the joints are always affected and may have one or more of the following signs and symptoms:
- inflammation (tender, red, and warm joints that can be swollen),
- loss of joint range of motion,
- nodule formation (red bumps that are hard that are found near the joints) and
- pain in the joints.
- As the disease progresses, joint function decreases.
General symptoms usually come on gradually and may include
- loss of appetite,
- weight loss,
- muscle aches, and
The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not known. However, most researchers consider abnormal activity of the body's immune system as major cause of this disease. However, risk factors considered by experts include
- possible infections by bacteria and/or viruses,
- tobacco smoking,
- silica exposure and
- gum disease as possible triggers for this disease.
- It is theorized that altered levels of gut bacteria may also play a role in rheumatoid arthritis development.
These risk factors that occur in other organs can precede RA development.
Rheumatoid Arthritis : What is Rheumatoid Arthritis? QuizQuestion
The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints.See Answer
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.