Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Overview

What is rheumatoid arthritis?
A person with rheumatoid arthritis has slowly worsening inflammation of the joints, which results in joint damage and disability. Rheumatoid arthritis results from an abnormal immune system, which normally fights infection. The immune system mistakenly attacks normal joint tissue, causing inflammation and breakdown of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that can cause the joints to become deformed. About 1 out of every 100 Americans has rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include joint pains, as well as joint swelling, stiffness, and warmth. The most common locations for joint pain in someone with rheumatoid arthritis include the hand, finger, wrist, shoulder, ankle, neck, hip, elbow, and jaw.

How does the doctor treat rheumatoid arthritis?
General treatment for rheumatoid arthritis includes rest, warm compresses, physical therapy, medications, splints, and a cane or walker. Treatment for severe rheumatoid arthritis may include joint replacement surgery.

Continue to Rheumatoid Arthritis Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Rheumatoid Arthritis References
  1. Cooper NJ. Economic burden of rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2000 Jan;39(1):28-33. [10662870]
  2. Pedersen M, Stripp C, Klarlund M, Olsen SF, Tjonneland AM, Frisch M. Diet and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in a prospective cohort. J Rheumatol. 2005 Jul;32(7):1249-52. [15996059]
  3. Rennie KL, Hughes J, Lang R, Jebb SA. Nutritional management of rheumatoid arthritis: a review of the evidence. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2003 Apr;16(2):97-109. [12662368]
  4. Rindfleisch JA, Muller D. Diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Sep 15;72(6):1037-47. [16190501]
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