Rheumatoid Arthritis : An Autoimmune Disease

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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the joints, most often in the hands and feet. It results in swelling, stiffness, pain, and sometimes joint, bone, and cartilage destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally, meaning if a joint on one side is affected, the same joint on the opposite side is affected as well. Rheumatoid arthritis belongs to a group of diseases called autoimmune disorders that affects joints. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system produces antibodies that attack the soft tissues lining of the joints. Eventually the cartilage, bone, and ligaments of the joint deteriorate, causing deformity, instability, and scarring within the joint …show more content…

Joints may freeze in one position and cannot bend or open fully. The fingers may dislocate from their normal position toward the little finger on each hand, causing tendons in the fingers to slip out of place (Slomski, pg 1557).
Swollen wrists can pinch a nerve and result in numbness or tingling due to carpal tunnel syndrome. Cysts can develop behind affected knees and rupture, causing pain and swelling in the lower legs. Up to 30% of people with rheumatoid arthritis have hard bumps just under the skin, usually near sites of pressure. Common areas for these bumps to develop are on the back of the forearm near the elbow. In rare cases, rheumatoid arthritis causes an inflammation of blood vessels called vasculitis, this condition reduces the blood supply to tissues and may cause nerve damage or leg sores that may become infected. Inflammation of the membranes covering the lungs, the sac surrounding the heart, or inflammation and scarring of the lungs, can lead to chest pain and shortness of breath. Some people develop swollen lymph nodes, dry eyes or mouth, or red, painful eyes as a result of inflammation (Slomski, pg 1557).
If an individual is experiencing any of the above symptoms, many tests may be ordered to make a diagnosis. Laboratory tests may include rheumatoid factor, white blood cell count, anti-nuclear antibody, anti-citrullinated peptide/protein antibodies, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein. 70% of people

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