What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder.
RA affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can lead to bone erosion, joint deformity and chronic, debilitating pain. It can also affect your entire body, causing fevers and fatigue.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which involves joint damage caused by wear and tear over time, RA is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when your immune system attacks your own body's tissues. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens, but there are several things that contribute to the process. One is the body’s over-production of interleukin-1 (IL-1), a protein in the body that can cause joint damage. Too much IL-1 can lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints.
RA mainly affects the small joints in your hands and feet. However, it can affect other joints as well, including wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees and ankles. Often, RA affects the joints of the body in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that the disease attacks the same joint on both sides of the body—both hands or both feet, for example.
- RA affects approximately 1% of the population—estimated to be over 2 million people
- It is more common in women than in men by about a two-to-three ratio.
- Generally RA occurs between the ages of 40 and 60.
Most doctors studying RA now believe that damage to bones begins during the first year or two that a person has the disease. This is one reason early diagnosis and treatment can be so important in the management of RA.
While there is no cure for RA, treatment options like Kineret® can help. Kineret® helps to block the activity of IL-1 in the body. This helps to reduce the symptoms and slow the progression of RA.