Besides, the lining of the tissue joint can become thicker and thicker, and may wear away surrounding ligaments, cartilage and bone as it spreads. One of the structures that get severely damaged is the synovium in the joint. It becomes inflamed and causes swelling and pain. The main characteristic and the one that differentiates rheumatoid arthritis from osteoarthritis is that it usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern, in the sense that if one knee or hand has it, the other one also have it. This disease is a systemic disease that often affects extra-articular tissues all through the body including the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles. Studies show that about 60% of rheumatoid arthritis patients are unable to work 10 years after the onset of their disease (Wikipedia, n. pag, 2007).
The epidemiological studies show that the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis occurs in 3 persons in a population of 10,000 every year. While the onset of this disease is very uncommen under the are of 15 it increases with age until the age of 80. Among men and women, women is affected three to five times as often as men. It is also estimated that the prevalence of the disease is 4 times more common in smokers than non-smokers (Wikipedia, n. pag, 2007).
Though several studies have been conducted around the world to pinpoint the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, none of them are successful. ...
Some of the researchers link this disease to genetics. They believe that the tendency to develop rheumatoid arthritis may be inherited genetically. It is strongly associated with the inherited tissue type Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen HLA-DR4 and hence provide a strong link with family history (Wikipedia, n. pag, 2007). The disease results in a progressive degeneration. However the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are sometimes severe and sometimes absent. It generally varies with the inflammation of the tissues. The disease is in the active mode and is painful when the body tissues are inflamed. The disease goes into the inactive mode when tissue inflammation subsides. In general when the patient takes the treatment the pain and inflammation reduces and these conditions may last for weeks, months, or years. During remissions, symptoms of the disease disappear, and patients usually feel well. But when the disease becomes active again (relapse), symptoms return as usual and sometimes the pain may be severe. In fact each patient has a unique pattern in which the disease presents.
Some of the common observation regarding the symptoms of the disease when it is in the active mode includes fatigue, lack of appetite, low grade fever, muscle and joint aches, and stiffness. Muscle and joint stiffness are typically most prominent in the morning and after periods of inactivity. In rheumatoid arthritis, multiple joints are commonly inflamed in a symmetrical pattern. In severe cases chronic inflammation may result in damage of body tissues, cartilage and bone, which in turn leads to a loss of cartilage, erosion and weakness of the bones as well as the muscles. Ultimately it results in joint deformity, destruction, and loss of function.