Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory disease which means that it affects a group of joints or organs or other body systems by a process in which the body’s immune system attacks itself causing inflammation and slow body distraction. Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the small joints of the fingers, wrists and feet and then it can progress to the elbow, shoulder, ankle and knee joints. Other parts of the body commonly affected are the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered a relapsing and remitting inflammatory disease. This means that someone might suffer from flare ups with symptoms like joint stiffness, inflammation and pain during the relapsing period and then have minimal or no symptoms at all during the remitting period.
The synovium is a dense connective tissue that surrounds all joints of the human body, makes synovial fluid which lubricates joints and lets them move and slide smoothly and pain free. With rheumatoid arthritis the body sends antibodies that attack the synovium and make it swell up making the joint inflamed, hot, red and stiff.
Early rheumatoid arthritis is defined when there are consistent symptoms for less than six months. If past the six months, it still presents then it is considered established rheumatoid arthritis. Different types of rheumatoid arthritis include: Seropositive RA (testing positive for rheumatoid factor blood test), Seronegative RA (testing negative for rheumatoid factor blood test) and Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), seen in children of ages younger than 17 years old.