Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Hidden Disease

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic ailment that can silently cause damage to our joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, which is caused by joint wear and tear, RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joint lining. It's like having a secret enemy within our body, attacking the lining of our joints and causing inflammation and pain. This condition can be deceptive as it often develops gradually, and its symptoms may be confused with less serious ailments.

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What is rheumatoid arthritis?

RA is a widespread condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide, with a higher prevalence among women. It is a progressive disease, meaning that if ignored, it can lead to irreversible joint damage, deformities, and loss of function. These consequences can significantly impact our daily lives, challenging simple tasks like walking or carrying objects. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention if we experience persistent pain or other worrisome symptoms.


The factors that contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis are numerous and complex. While the exact cause is still unknown, it is assumed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors. Let’s understand what causes ra:

  • Genetics- It plays a significant role, as individuals with a family history of the disease are more likely to develop it.
  • Environmental aspects- Smoking, obesity, and exposure to infections may also trigger the onset of the condition.
  • Hormonal changes- The imbalance of hormones, particularly in women, has been connected to an increased risk of acquiring the condition.

In summary, there are multiple rheumatoid arthritis causes that contribute to its development.

4 Stages of RA

Stage 1- Mild RA

During the initial phases, inflammation occurs in your joint lining or synovium. At this point, the bones remain undamaged. However, the surrounding tissue frequently swells, resulting in stiffness and pain in your joint.


Stage 2- Moderate RA

At this moderate stage, inflammation damages cartilage, the cushioning material that safeguards the ends of your bones. As a result, your joint will become stiff, and you'll experience a limitation in your ability to move it as much as you used to.


Stage 3- Severe RA

This is the advanced stage. Inflammation is deteriorating cartilage and leading to bone erosion near your joints. As the bones shift, your joints may become less stable, and deformities may appear. You will experience reduced muscle strength, pain, swelling, and limited motion.


Stage 4- End stage RA

In the final stages, the inflammatory process stops, but the detrimental effects persist. Consequently, the affected joint may become nonfunctional, leading to pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited motion. Additionally, muscle weakness may also be experienced. At this point, joint replacement surgery may be necessary.

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