More Information on Rheumatoid Arthritis

What Causes It?

Doctors don't know the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis. They know that with this type of arthritis, a person's immune system attacks his/her own body tissues. Researchers are learning many things about why and how this happens. Things that may cause rheumatoid arthritis can include:
 
  • Genes (passed from parent to child)
  • Environment
  • Hormones.

 

(Click Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information.)
 

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Some common symptoms of this condition include:
 
  • Tender, warm, and swollen joints
  • Symmetrical pattern of affected joints
  • Joint inflammation often affecting the wrist and finger joints closest to the hand
  • Joint inflammation sometimes affecting other joints, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet
  • Fatigue, occasional fevers, and a general sense of not feeling well
  • Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 30 minutes in the morning or after a long rest
  • Symptoms that last for many years
  • Variability of symptoms among people with the disease.

 

(Click Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms for more information, including information about early symptoms of the disease.)

 

Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult in its early stages for several reasons. First, there is no single test for the disease. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms differ from person to person and can be more severe in some people than in others.
 
To help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and to rule our other conditions, doctors use a variety of tools. These include:
 
  • A medical history
  • A physical examination
  • Laboratory tests
  • X-rays.

 

(Click Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis for more information on these specific tests.)

     
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Information About Rheumatoid Arthritis

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