Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function in the joints.
It occurs when your immune system, the system that protects your body from harm like a flu virus, mistakenly starts attacking healthy tissue. This causes inflammation that leads to swelling in the joints, making them progressively less and less mobile.
If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves.
Over time, there is loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. Joints can become loose, unstable, painful, and lose their mobility.
If not managed properly, RA can cause joint damage—and can even result in permanent joint destruction. Joint damage cannot be reversed and because it can occur early, doctors recommend aggressive treatment to control RA.
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