Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disorder of unknown etiology. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses which occur when the body tissues are mistakenly attacked by its own immune system. The major distinctive feature is chronic, symmetric and erosive synovitis of peripheral joints. The severity of the joint disease may fluctuate over time but the most common outcome of established disease is progressive development of various degrees of joint dysfunction, deformity and disability.
The following signs and symptoms :
- Morning stiffness lasting more than 1 hour, present daily for more than 6 weeks.
- Arthritis of 3 joints lasting for at least 6 weeks.
- Arthritis of hand joints lasting for at least 6 weeks.
- Symmetric arthritis lasting for at least 6 weeks.
- Rheumatoid nodules.
- Positive Rheumatoid Factor on blood tests.
- Joint changes on x-ray.