Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Risk Factors, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Most people are familiar with the term arthritis, but did you know that this is actually an umbrella term for various joint disorders? In fact, arthritis includes more than 100 conditions that affect the joints in our bodies. All types have different causes, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options. One of the best-known types is rheumatoid arthritis. About 1.5 million Americans, have rheumatoid arthritis, and every year about 200,000 people get diagnosed with this joint disorder. This is why everyone should know its symptoms, risk factors, and possible treatment options. The sooner someone gets diagnosed, the better!

Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Before we tell you what causes rheumatoid arthritis and whether you are at risk of getting it, it is even more important to know exactly what this condition entails. Rheumatoid arthritis – also known as RA – is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the lining of your joints, but can also damage other parts of your body. Think of your skin, eyes, blood vessels, and vital organs. Despite being called a joint disease (arthritis), it is actually an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system inadvertently attacks (healthy) tissues in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of joints, which causes painful swelling, and ultimately even bone erosion and joint deformity. Unfortunately, medical experts still don’t know what triggers this process.

Risk Factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are a number of factors that increase the likelihood of getting RA. For example, women are 2-3 times more likely than men to have this autoimmune disease, and age also plays a role. You can develop rheumatoid arthritis at any age, but often it does not develop until middle age. Other risk factors are:

  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Overweight / Obesity

If someone in the family already had RA, it immediately increases your risk of getting it yourself. This is called genetic predisposition. We cannot say this is enough: Smoking Kills You! Most people already know it increases the risk of getting certain types of cancer, but it also increases the risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis. Being overweight also increases the risk of various diseases, including this one. Continue reading on the next page and find out how to recognize rheumatoid arthritis.