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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

What affects 2 out of 100 people worldwide, yet has no known cause?  Rheumatoid arthritis--a systemic disease in which immune cells attack and inflame the coverings around various joints.  Like all autoimmune diseases, it is usually chronic and it affects up to four times as many women as men. 

Striking symptoms are inflamed, swollen, painful, or deformed joints.  Unlike osteoarthritis which generally affects few joints at a time, RA affects many joints simultaneously.  It can causes major impairments within 5 years of disease onset and decreases life expectancy.  RA can also affect many other organs in the body.

Most people think of arthritis as a disease of aging, yet infants and children can have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis,  a much more serious form of RA which affects more children in the US than juvenile diabetes.  Some patients go into remission, but most battle the symptoms for their entire lives.  The good news is that there are now breakthrough new therapies for adults and children with rheumatoid arthritis.

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Created: 12/7/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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