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Progression of rheumatoid arthritis


How does rheumatoid arthritis progress?

The joint pain and joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occur when the body’s immune system malfunctions. Under normal conditions, the immune system fights unwanted invaders such as viruses and bacteria, but in RA the immune system also attacks healthy joint tissue.

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As a result of this inappropriate immune response, white blood cells travel to the joint, producing certain proteins, including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), IL-6, interleukin-1, and others, that, over time, can signal cells to attack healthy tissue and cause ongoing destruction of cartilage, bone, and other joint-related tissues.

Studies have shown that RA joint damage can begin to occur within the first year or two, which is why diagnosis and appropriate treatment are important.

How does rheumatoid arthritis damage joints?

The below image shows a joint affected by rheumatoid arthritis. In joints with RA, white blood cells enter the synovial space and produce cytokines, which contribute to the pain, inflammation and damage to cartilage and bone.

Effects of rheumatoid arthritis on joints Effects of rheumatoid arthritis on joints

Why is a prompt and accurate diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis important?

How is RA affecting me?

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How is RA treated?

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Which doctor sees people with RA?

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