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What are the Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Nov 30, 2007
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the white blood cells of the body begin to attack the membranes surrounding the joints, called the synovium. This causes the synovium to become inflamed, and can eventually cause damage to the bone, cartilage and tendons around it. The result is pain and swelling in the joint area, and the eventual deterioration of the joint itself.

While medical professionals understand this part of the process in rheumatoid arthritis, the actual causes of it are still unknown, and are therefore the subject of many studies that are going on around the world today. There are many theories involving the causes of it, and these theories have helped doctors to understand some of the risk factors that are involved. However, like other autoimmune disorders, doctors are still seeking answers to questions about why some people are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and others are not.

Possible Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are many possible causes of it that are being studied today. For example, it is thought that this disease may be a result of a virus or bacterium that causes an infection in the body could be the culprit in the cause of rheumatoid arthritis as well. However, no specific agent has been identified, and there is still a question as to why some exposed to certain viruses may eventually be diagnosed with this and others are not. There are other risk factors that are known to increase your odds of being diagnosed with it at some point in your life.

These include a genetic predisposition to the illness, although genetics do not seem to be a direct cause of rheumatoid arthritis. This disease seems to strike most often in women as they age, but the risk falls considerably after the age of eighty. Exposure to an infection can increase your risk, but only if you are prone to the disease in the first place. Finally, excessive smoking over a number of years can also increase your risk of it, along with a host of other illnesses.

If you have any of these risk factors, you can discuss with your doctor the causes of rheumatoid arthritis and the likelihood that you will be diagnosed with the illness. If you are considered to be in the high risk category, such as having an immediate relative that has been diagnosed already, you can be alert to the symptoms of it, so that you know when to call your doctor.

If you are noticing painful swelling in a number of your joints on both sides of your body, your doctor can run some tests to see if you indeed have rheumatoid arthritis. Early diagnosis can mean a more effective treatment plan in the long run.
About the Author
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