Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview
Arthritis is a general term that means inflammation in a joint. Joint inflammation is characterized by redness, warmth, swelling, and pain within the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of chronic arthritis that typically occurs in joints on both sides of the body (such as hands, wrists, or knees). This symmetry helps distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from other types of arthritis.
In addition to affecting the joints, rheumatoid arthritis may occasionally affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood, or nerves.
What Are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Stiffness, especially in the morning or after sitting for long periods
Rheumatoid arthritis affects everyone differently. For some, joint,symptoms develop gradually over several years. In others, rheumatoid arthritis may progress rapidly and while other people may have rheumatoid arthritis for a limited period of time and then enter a period of remission.
Who Gets Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 1% of the U.S. population. While it is two to three times more common in women than in men, men tend to be more severely affected when they get it. It usually occurs in middle age, however, young children and the elderly also can develop rheumatoid arthritis.