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Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first — particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.


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About 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience signs and symptoms that don't involve the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many nonjoint structures, including:. Rheumatoid arthritis signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission — when the swelling and pain fade or disappear.

Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joints to deform and shift out of place. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent discomfort and swelling in your joints. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, involves the wearing away of the cartilage that caps the bones in your joints.

With rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane that protects and lubricates joints becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Joint erosion may follow. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround your joints. The resulting inflammation thickens the synovium, which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone within the joint.

The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and stretch. Gradually, the joint loses its shape and alignment. Doctors don't know what starts this process, although a genetic component appears likely.

Arthritis: Causes, types, and treatments

While your genes don't actually cause rheumatoid arthritis, they can make you more susceptible to environmental factors — such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria — that may trigger the disease. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.

This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis can cause pain, swelling and deformity. More Information Rheumatoid arthritis: Does pregnancy affect symptoms? Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Rheumatoid arthritis vs. More Information Is depression a factor in rheumatoid arthritis?

Types of arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes? Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs? Share on: Facebook Twitter. References Rheumatoid arthritis. American College of Rheumatology. Accessed Dec. Rheumatoid arthritis.


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Matteson EL, et al. Overview of the systemic and nonarticular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. Goldman L, et al. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. Leaving a gift in your Will is a wonderful way to ensure the cause you support can continue to improve the life of every person affected by arthritis. Think of it as leaving a legacy that will make a difference to generations of New Zealanders beyond your lifetime.

People of all ages can get arthritis. It is a chronic condition with no cure but can be treated and managed effectively. Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms. Arthritis can involve almost any part of the body, most often the knee, hip, spine and other weight-bearing joints, but also smaller joints like fingers and toes.

Some types of arthritis affect the skin and internal organs as well as joints.

Gout arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis in New Zealand and more prevalent here than anywhere else in the world. At only 17 years old, TP is one of more than , New Zealanders affected by arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a severe health issue that is only going to get worse. We are excited to announce the release of our Annual Review.

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For those of you on our mailing list you will be recieving a copy in the mail. You are also able to read and download a copy right here on our website. Your donations help us fund much needed support programs for people and children with arthritis. Search for:. Arthritis Appeal. Find out more.

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Have questions about your arthritis? Get an Arthritis Educator to phone you! Fill in the online form here. Summer Scholarships Summer scholarships in health research related to arthritis are available to promising students wishing to be involved in a research project over the summer vacation. New Pain Booklet We have re-written and re-designed our pain resource.