What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common and well known form of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. While a primary care doctor or orthopedic surgeon may suspect RA, it is a type of arthritis that is best diagnosed and treated by a specialist – a rheumatologist.
Symptoms of RA
RA typically causes symptoms of symmetrical small joint pain, swelling, and morning stiffness. Small joints refer to space between the bones of the fingers, wrists, toes, and ankles. While uncomfortable, joint pain due to RA typically improves with movement and activity. At present, the cause of RA is unknown.
Difference between RA and OA
RA and Osteoarthritis (OA) are different. RA is an autoimmune disease, whereas OA is a degenerative disease. Under normal circumstances, the immune system defends the body against bacteria and viruses. In the case of an autoimmune disease, the immune system can become dysfunctional and overactive and mistakenly attack healthy body tissue.
With RA, the small joints are mistakenly attacked by the immune system. In contrast, OA is due to “wear and tear” of the joints commonly found in middle aged and elderly people due to the breakdown of the cartilage between the bones. In addition to aging, other risk factors for OA include being overweight and obesity, trauma and congenital joint deformity such as unequal leg length, bowlegs or knocked knees.
OA typically affects large weight-bearing joints such as the big toes, knees, hips, back, spine, and joint pain is worse with movement and activity as opposed to RA.
Risk Factors of RA
At present, it is not known definitively what is the instigating cause of immune system dysfunction that leads to the development of RA. However, studies have shown some possible risk factors, including tobacco use and bacteria that cause gingivitis (gum disease).
RA can run in families suggesting a hereditary genetic component, but there is no evidence that it is definitely or always heritable. RA can also occur sporadically in people with no family history at all.
How to Schedule an Appointment For Rheumatoid Arthritis
You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Lomibao by calling our office or filling out our Request Appointment form. Lomibao Rheumatology & Wellness Care is a full-service rheumatology clinic with an on-site infusion lounge and telehealth services available for established patients. Lomibao Rheumatology & Wellness Care is currently accepting new patients, and we welcome you to join our family by contacting us today!
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