Arthritis & Rheumatism

Disease burden in osteoarthritis is similar to rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) has traditionally been viewed as a highly prevalent but milder condition when compared with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and some may believe that it is part of a normal aging process requiring acceptance, ...

Arthritis & Rheumatism

Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?

Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Inflammation links heart disease and depression, study finds

People with heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression, and the opposite is also true. Now, scientists at the University of Cambridge believe they have identified a link between these two conditions: inflammation—the ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Experimental blood test accurately spots fibromyalgia

For the first time, researchers have evidence that fibromyalgia can be reliably detected in blood samples—work they hope will pave the way for a simple, fast diagnosis.

Arthritis & Rheumatism

Smoking cessation may reduce risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Smoking is an important risk factor for developing the most common form of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other inflammatory diseases, but a critical question remains: Can those who quit smoking delay or prevent RA or have ...

Arthritis & Rheumatism

Autoimmune disorders may up risk for carpal tunnel syndrome

(HealthDay)—Common autoimmune disorders are associated with an increased risk for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists, held from ...

Medications

FDA: Pulmonary embolism risk up with tofacitinib 10 mg for RA

(HealthDay)—A safety clinical trial has revealed that tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR) 10 mg twice daily is associated with an increased risk for pulmonary embolism (PE) and death among patients with rheumatoid arthritis ...

Neuroscience

New target for chronic pain relief confirmed by scientists

A research group at Hiroshima University observed a potential new target for chronic pain treatment. Further research using this receptor could lead to new, more effective drugs to use in pain-relieving treatment for chronic ...

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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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