Medications

The danger behind certain biologics

Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn's disease plague tens of millions of Americans and are the result of the body's immune system, whose role is to fight against disease-causing pathogens, ...

Inflammatory disorders

Drug decreases gut leakiness associated with ulcerative colitis

A research team led by biomedical scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has found that a drug approved by the FDA to treat rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis can repair permeability defects in the ...

Genetics

When your microbiome and your genome aren't a good combination

One of the most astounding discoveries of recent times is just how much influence gut bacteria have on our health and well-being. In addition to extracting nutrients from food, the collective activity of these tiny organisms ...

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Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic and serious inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks the joints producing an inflammatory synovitis that often progresses to destruction of the articular cartilage and ankylosis of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also produce diffuse inflammation in the lungs, pericardium, pleura, and sclera, and also nodular lesions, most common in subcutaneous tissue under the skin. Although the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, autoimmunity plays a pivotal role in its chronicity and progression.

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 no age is immune. It can be a disabling and painful condition, which can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility. It is diagnosed chiefly on symptoms and signs, but also with blood tests (especially a test called rheumatoid factor) and X-rays. Diagnosis and long-term management are typically performed by a rheumatologist, an expert in the diseases of joints and connective tissues.

Various treatments are available. Non-pharmacological treatment includes physical therapy and occupational therapy. Analgesia (painkillers) and anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as steroids, are used to suppress the symptoms, while disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are often 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 rheumatos ("flowing"). 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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