What are the causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when our immune system attacks our own body organs like joints, lungs, eyes etc. It thus causes inflammation of lining membrane of the joint – which then produces chemicals (like TNF╬▒, interleukins) which damage the joints. Also around 70-80% patients have antibodies in their blood (Rheumatoid factor- RF and anti-CCP) that accumulate in joint and increase the inflammation.

Diagnosis - Rheumatoid Arthritis:

The diagnosis is primarily clinical, where a doctor can examine and confirm the diagnosis in classic case of Rheumatoid arthritis. However, in some cases of early disease or when the symptoms and examination findings are atypical for RA , some laboratory tests are done that assist in confirming the diagnosis.

  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)/C - reactive protein (CRP) (markers of inflammation)
  • Rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP
  • X ray chest, hand and feet
  • Other tests are done before starting medications- to monitor for their side effects and baseline functions of liver and kidney ant to rule out any occult infections

Where to get more information on Rheumatoid Arthritis: 

American College of Rheumatology (www.rheumatology.org)
The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org)
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Arthritis/default.asp)

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