Rheumatoid Arthritis

Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis is a common inflammatory disorder primarily affecting synovial joints but also other organs. It is characterized by immune‐driven chronic inflammation, relapses and remissions. It is strongly associated with the presence of rheumatoid factor in the blood and has a significant genetic predisposition, notably from certain immune response genes. Dramatic advances in therapies mean that progressive disability may no longer be inevitable.

Keywords: aetiology; immunogenetics; treatment; epidemiology; management

Figure 1.

Cumulative involvement of joints in rheumatoid arthritis.

Figure 2.

Typical rheumatoid joint deformities in the hands. There is wasting of the small muscles of the hand, swelling of the metacarpophalangeal joints and a small subcutaneous nodule on the little finger. The fingernail ‘clubbing’ is characteristic of the pulmonary fibrosis from which this patient also suffered.

Figure 3.

Plain radiograph (left) and magnetic resonance image (right) of the cervical spine in rheumatoid arthritis, revealing subaxial subluxation and spinal cord compression.

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Further Reading

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How to Cite close
Wordsworth, Paul, and Holden, Wendy(Jan 2006) Rheumatoid Arthritis. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0004113]