Rheumatoid arthritis facts for kids
|A hand severely affected by rheumatoid arthritis. This degree of swelling and deformation does not typically occur with current treatment.|
|Symptoms||Warm, swollen, painful joints|
|Complications||Low red blood cells, inflammation around the lungs, inflammation around the heart|
|Usual onset||Middle age|
|Diagnostic method||Based on symptoms, medical imaging, blood tests|
|Similar conditions||Systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia|
|Medication||Pain medications, steroids, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs|
|Frequency||0.5–1% (adults in developed world)|
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious, painful, and chronic (long-lasting) disease. It is an autoimmune disease - a disease where the body's immune system attacks healthy cells. When a person has RA, their immune system attacks the joints and the tissues around the joints in the body. This causes different problems, like:
- The capsules around the joints get swollen
- The body makes too much synovial fluid (the special fluid that is supposed to cushion the joints)
- Tough fibrous tissue builds up in the synovium area (which is also supposed to help cushion the joints)
Eventually, RA can destroy a person's articular cartilage. Normally, articular (having to do with the joints) cartilage covers the end of bones where they come together to form joints. This keeps the bones from rubbing against each other. If the articular cartilage has been destroyed by RA, the bones will rub against each other, which is very painful.
No one knows what causes RA, but some theories are that it has to do with hormones, environment, and genes. There is no cure, but doctors have determined ways to help slow down and reduce the impact of the disease. Women are two to three times more likely than men to get rheumatoid arthritis. Most cases of RA occur in people between the ages of 25 and 55.
RA was first recognized around 1800 by Dr. Augustin Jacob Landré-Beauvais.
Symptoms may include:
- Swelling, stiffness, and pain around affected joints
- A feeling of discomfort and tiredness
Less often, a person with RA could have:
- inflamed blood vessels
- neck pain
Images for kids
Signs of destruction and inflammation on ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging in the second metacarpophalangeal joint in established RA. Thin arrows indicate an erosive change; thick arrows indicate synovitis. Ultrasonography (left side of image) in the (a) longitudinal and (b) the transverse planes shows both signs of destruction and inflammation. Axial T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were obtained (c) before and (d) after contrast administration, also demonstrating synovitis. Additionally, a coronal T1-weighted magnetic resonance image (e) before contrast administration visualizes the same bone erosion as shown in panels c and d.
Rheumatoid arthritis Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.