By Matthew Blackledge
What is it?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet. The "rheumatoid factor" is an antibody that can be found in the blood of 80% of people with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid factor is detected by a simple blood test. Possible risk factors for developing rheumatoid arthritis include genetic background, smoking, periodontal disease, and bacteria in the stomach.
In the hands
One of the most common places Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs is in the hands.
Here is an X-ray of a normal hand compared to one that Rheumatoid arthritis has effected.
In the knee
Above are the effects it has on the knee joint
Is it Treatable?
Although it can't be cured, treatment may help ease the effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Treatment optimally involves a combination of patient education, rest and excercise, joint protection, medications, and occasionally surgery.
How long will it last?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, and therefore can last for years or be lifelong. The cause of this disease is unknown, and therefore hard to treat and predict.
What to do?
Rheumatoid arthritis requires a medical diagnosis, and lab tests and imaging are always required as part of diagnostic. It is best treated or check early, so if you think you may be developing rheumatoid arthritis you should have it checked out.