Cardiology

Antibody 'road block' enables fine-tuning for cardiac recovery

More than one million Americans per year experience myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack, as well as the healing and rebuilding phase that begins shortly thereafter—a complicated process which involves ...

Oncology & Cancer

Tumor resistance is promoted by anti-cancer protein

Lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, is a biological stressor that occurs under various conditions such as wound healing and stroke. To rescue the tissue, the body has innate mechanisms that "kick in" to make the cells of the hypoxic ...

Obstetrics & gynaecology

How pregnancy changes women's metabolism and immune systems

Some of the changes that happen to a woman's body during pregnancy are more obvious than others. We all know that women usually get a visible bump, they might have morning sickness initially, and swollen ankles later on, ...

Arthritis & Rheumatism

Ultrasonography helps differentiate arthritis types

(HealthDay)—Ultrasound is effective for differentiating between the major types of arthritis when combined with a physical exam and patient history, according to a review recently published in The Open Medical Imaging Journal.

Immunology

Researchers discover new biomarker for rare autoimmune disease

University of Alberta researchers have identified a unique biological marker that can be used to identify the presence of the rare autoimmune disease myasthenia gravis, predict the course of the disease and identify new, ...

Inflammatory disorders

How to fight hidden causes of inflammation

(HealthDay)—Tamping down inflammation is a must for people with a chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. But you can be exposed to damaging inflammation without having a specific medical condition.

Arthritis & Rheumatism

Q&A: Pain after knee replacement surgery

Dear Mayo Clinic: It has been months since I had knee replacement surgery, but my knee is still hurting. Can anything be done at this point, or does the surgery just not eliminate pain in some patients?

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks flexible (synovial) joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the capsule around the joints (synovium) secondary to swelling (hyperplasia) of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development of fibrous tissue (pannus) in the synovium. The pathology of the disease process often leads to the destruction of articular cartilage and ankylosis of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also produce diffuse inflammation in the lungs, membrane around the heart (pericardium), the membranes of the lung (pleura), and white of the eye (sclera), and also nodular lesions, most common in subcutaneous tissue. Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, autoimmunity plays a pivotal role in both its chronicity and progression, and RA is considered a systemic autoimmune disease.

About 1% of the world's population is afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis, women three times more often than men. Onset is most frequent between the ages of 40 and 50, but people of any age can be affected. It can be a disabling and painful condition, which can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility if not adequately treated. It is a clinical diagnosis made on the basis of symptoms, physical exam, radiographs (X-rays) and labs, although the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) publish diagnostic guidelines. Diagnosis and long-term management are typically performed by a rheumatologist, an expert in joint, muscle and bone diseases.

Various treatments are available. Non-pharmacological treatment includes physical therapy, orthoses, occupational therapy and nutritional therapy but these do not stop the progression of joint destruction. Analgesia (painkillers) and anti-inflammatory drugs, including steroids, are used to suppress the symptoms, while disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are required to inhibit or halt the underlying immune process and prevent long-term damage. In recent times, the newer group of biologics has increased treatment options.

The name is based on the term "rheumatic fever", an illness which includes joint pain and is derived from the Greek word ῥεύμα-rheuma (nom.), ῥεύματος-rheumatos (gen.) ("flow, current"). The suffix -oid ("resembling") gives the translation as joint inflammation that resembles rheumatic fever. The first recognized description of rheumatoid arthritis was made in 1800 by Dr. Augustin Jacob Landré-Beauvais (1772–1840) of Paris.

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