A middle-aged woman comes to the clinic complaining of stiff, painful joints and increasing immobility of her finger joints. A glance at her hands reveals knobby, deformed knuckles. For what condition will she be tested?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the Immune System within the body has started attacking the person's own healthy cells, and in this case, it's the lining of the joints, called the synovium.
Some of the risk factors are:
- being a woman (they are more likely than men to develop RA)
- being middle-aged (RA can develop at any time but most commonly between ages 40-60)
- family history, smoking, obesity, and environmental conditions are some others