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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Self Versus Self – A Joint Attack!

Physical therapist working with a patient's ankle

The information on this site is not to be used in lieu of qualified medical advice from your physician.

In August we will be showcasing Rheumatoid Arthritis as our “Disease of the Month.”

If you have recently been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, you might want answers to the

following questions:

  • What is this disease all about?

  • What causes it?

  • What are the typical symptoms?

  • How does it affect my body?

  • How is it treated?

This web site should not be used in lieu of getting professional medical care from a qualified physician. Although we are not doctors, we have done a bit of research on these issues from official and professionally reliable sources and hope that we can provide some answers that can help you better understand this illness.

Research indicates that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune response, which normally protects the body from invading organisms such as bacteria and viruses, goes rogue and attacks the body itself. This rogue invasion produces a destructive inflammatory response, especially in the lining of the joints called the synovium. This renegade inflammation causes the joint tissue to thicken, which results in joint swelling and pain. If this inflammation is not stopped, it can damage the cartilage or the bone itself and can result in joint deformity. The most common joints affected by RA are the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles, and usually affects joints both sides of the body.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “About 1.5 million people in the United States have RA. Nearly three times as many women have this disease as do men. It usually occurs between ages 30-60. . . Having a family member with RA increases the odds of having RA; however, most people with RA have no family history of the disease.” (Arthritis Foundation Retrieved 8/3/2018). As you can see from these statistics, this is not just an “old person’s disease.” It can occur at a much younger age, and there are even children who have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

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