Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases and many people suffer from its uncomfortable symptoms. It is discovered and introduced to the medical community for the first time in 1800 by a French doctor called Augustin Jacob. It occurs when the body’s immune cells (white blood cells) mistake the joint tissues for a foreign body and attack it. Although rheumatism is still used to indicate rheumatoid arthritis, many doctors no longer use it.
The patient’s Immune system for some reason gets confused and starts to attack his healthy tissue causing inflammation, pain, and long-term damage. When the irritated Immune system does not work properly, it develops new antibodies to attack the lining of joints called synovium which is responsible for reducing joint friction during articulation and has a major role in the smooth movement. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, so it does not only affect small joints as in hand and feet but also affects different body organs.
Although Rheumatoid arthritis may affect all people regardless of their gender and age, it is more frequent among women as it is reported that women are three times more likely to get RA than men and this led to a theory that RA is related to female hormones. Researches estimate that 0.2-2% of women all over the world complain of rheumatoid arthritis. Middle-aged people (30-50 years old) are more presumably to get RA. However, people of all ages could get rheumatoid arthritis. People all over the world celebrate October 12 as world arthritis day in which they can raise awareness about rheumatoid and other arthritis diseases.
Recent statistics show that rheumatoid arthritis is less common in rural regions and Asian countries such as China and Indonesia and Australia, America, and northern Europe are found to record the highest numbers of rheumatoid arthritis cases in the world. USA reported cases of rheumatoid arthritis increase by 100,000 cases every year which makes 0.5 – 1.1% of its population suffer from RA. Individuals of different races have different probabilities of getting RA as Caucasians (white people) have the majority of incidence. Doctors assume that it is almost rare to see a black person with RA.
⇒ Now, let’s discuss causes of rheumatoid arthritis.