What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease and a long term condition that causes pain,stiffness and swelling in the joints. It mainly affects the feet, hands and wrists but can also cause problems in other parts of the body.
What are the common symptoms of RA?
- Pain in the joints
- Stiffness in the morning which usually last more than 30 minutes
- Swelling and redness around the joints
- Fatigue / tiredness
- Flu like symptoms
What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
RA affects around 1% of the population in the UK and it can happen to anyone at any age although it is more common between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Statistics show that RA affects women three times more than men. RA is an autoimmune disease which means that the immune system in your body which normally fights infection is mistakenly attacking your joints causing pain and swelling. It is unclear what causes one’s body’s immune system to attack the joints. The genes that one inherit from parents may be a reason that causes RA but it is not the sole cause of RA. It has been found that people who smoke and drink excessively has a higher chance of developing RA.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
There isn’t a single test that can diagnose RA. However, your rheumatologist will use a combination of blood tests and imaging techniques to help with his / her diagnosis.
What are the treatments?
There is no cure for RA but there are a range of medication that will help keep the condition less active and keep the joints damage to a minimum.
If you suspect you are suffering from any of the symptoms, it is important to see y our GP and have your GP refer you to a rheumatologist as soon as possible.