Rheumatoid Arthritis Information

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks the person's own body. The disease -- which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints -- occurs in all races and ethnic groups, but affects about two to three times as many women as men. Statistics reveal other important information about the condition. For example, rheumatoid arthritis affects about 2.1 million people.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Information: An Introduction

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which means that a person's immune system (the system in the body responsible for fighting disease) mistakenly attacks the person's own body. In rheumatoid arthritis, the parts attacked are the linings of the joints (places in the body where two bones connect). The reasons that this happens are complex and not yet fully understood.
 

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in a person's joints, as well as problems with functioning. However, it affects different people in different ways, in terms of the symptoms they have, how serious the symptoms are, and how long the symptoms last.
 
Rheumatoid arthritis is different from other types of arthritis (such as osteoarthritis). For example:
 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern; for example, if one hand is affected, the other usually will be too.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis often affects the wrists and fingers, though it can affect other parts of the body.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease affecting the entire body. A person with RA may feel tired and weak, have fevers at times, lose appetite, lose weight, and generally not feel well.

 

(To learn more about the signs and symptoms of RA, click Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms.) 

 

Statistics on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Scientists estimate that about 2.1 million people, or between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of the U.S. adult population, have rheumatoid arthritis. Interestingly, some recent studies have suggested that the overall number of new cases of rheumatoid arthritis may actually be going down. Scientists are investigating why this may be happening.
 
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Although the disease often begins in middle-age and occurs with increased frequency in older people, children and young adults also develop it. Like some other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease.
 
By all measures, the financial and social impact of all types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, is substantial, both for the nation and for individuals. From an economic standpoint, the medical and surgical treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and the wages lost because of disability caused by the disease add up to billions of dollars annually.
 
You can get more information on rheumatoid arthritis by clicking on any of the links below.
 
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Facts About Rheumatoid Arthritis

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