Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis in which the joints, usually in the hands and feet, develop inflammation, resulting in swelling, pain and, often, joint destruction.
The immune system damages the joints and connective tissues.
The joints (usually the small joints of the limbs) are painful and stiff for more than 60 minutes after getting up and after a period of inactivity.
Fever, weakness and damage to other organs may occur.
Diagnosis is made primarily on the basis of symptoms, but also on rheumatoid factor serologic tests and x-rays.
Treatment may include exercises, splinting, medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, and immunosuppressants), and sometimes surgery.
Worldwide, almost 1% of the population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, regardless of ethnicity or country of origin, with an incidence 2 to 3 times higher in women than in men. Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins between the ages of 35 and 50, but it can occur at any age. A disease similar to rheumatoid arthritis can occur in children. The disease is then called juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Nevertheless, the prognosis for juvenile idiopathic arthritis is often somewhat different.
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. It is considered an autoimmune disease. Components of the immune system attack the soft tissues that line joints (synovial structures) and can also reach connective tissue in other parts of the body, such as blood vessels and the lungs. Eventually, the cartilage, bone and ligaments of the joint can erode , causing joint deformity, instability and fibrosis. Joints deteriorate at varying rates. Many factors, including genetic predisposition, can influence the course of the disease. Unknown environmental factors (such as viral infections and smoking) are believed to have a role.
The number of painful joints (from 0 to 28) is indicated by the patient during the consultation. The number of swollen joints is noted by the doctor during the consultation. Please note that the joints of the feet and ankles are not taken into account.
The patient's global assessment of Rheumatoid arthritis activity is a visual analog scale from 0 to 100 mm. The principle is the same as for pain assessment: 0 = no manifestation ofRheumatoid arthritis, 100 = maximum severity that the patient can imagine.
When using the sed rate, the number to indicate is the number of mm at the first hour.