Orthopaedic Surgery » Patient Care » Rheumatoid Arthritis Facts

Rheumatoid Arthritis Facts

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

  • An inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints-most commonly the hands, feet, hips, knees, and elbows.
  • Occurs when the immune system, which normally defends the body from invading organisms, attacks the membrane lining the joints
  • Can become a chronic, disabling condition without proper treatment

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

Researchers believe that some people have genes that make them susceptible to the disease. There is usually a “trigger,” such as an infection or environmental factor, that actives these genes. When the body is exposed to this trigger, the immune system responds inappropriately, attacking the joint instead of protecting it.

Who is at risk?

The disease usually begins in middle age, but people of all ages can be affected. Women are more likely to develop the disease than men.
What are the symptoms?

  • Swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joint,
    even when it is not being used
  • A feeling of warmth around the point
  • Deformities of the joint
  • Systemic symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite,
    and decreased energy

How is it diagnosed?

It can be difficult in its early stages because there is no single test, and symptoms differ from person to person. Also, symptoms can be similar to other types of arthritis. Therefore, doctors use a variety of tools to diagnose the disease, including X-rays and laboratory tests.

How is it treated?

Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are a number of treatment options that can help relieve joint pain and improve functioning. These include:

  • Lifestyles modifications
  • Exercise and therapy
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Routine monitoring and ongoing care

Sources:

Contact Us

Department of
Orthopaedic Surgery

1211 Union Ave. Suite 520
Memphis, TN 38104
Becky Adams
Phone: 901-448-5880
Fax: 901-448-3208
Email: badams@uthsc.edu

Campbell Foundation Education Office
1211 Union Ave Suite 510
Memphis, TN 38104

Resident Program

Susan Coffill
Education Coordinator
Phone: 901-759-3275
Email: scoffill@uthsc.edu

Fellowship Program

Rosemary Graham
Education Coordinator
Phone: 901-759-3274
Email: rgraham5@uthsc.edu