Treatment Update on Rheumatoid Arthritis
The following perspectives on Rheumatoid Arthritis, written by William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR, are the result of information provided at the 2002 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause chronic inflammation of the joints and other areas of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect persons of all ages. Its cause is unknown. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that is characterized by periods of disease flares and remissions. In RA, multiple joints are usually, but not always, affected in a symmetrical pattern (affecting both sides of the body). The chronic inflammation of RA can cause permanent joint destruction and deformity. The "rheumatoid factor" is an antibody blood test that can be found in 80 percent of patients with RA.