Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Psychosocial Aspects
Bruce A. Huyser & Jerry C. Parker
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation. The cause of RA is unknown, and there is no known cure. Although RA can attack any joint, the wrists and knuckles are almost always involved, with the knees and feet often affected as well. Over time, RA inflammatory processes can gradually digest cartilage and bone in affected joints. Other physical symptoms commonly associated with RA include pain, fatigue, muscle aches, and low-grade fever. RA also can damage other body systems, including the lungs, eyes, nervous system, and cardiovascular system. Although RA sometimes manifests and resolves within a few months, most individuals with RA experience a more chronic disease pattern, characterized by waxing and waning of severe symptoms, with progressive disfigurement and disability. RA is about two to three times more common in women that men, and the prevalence is greater in older people. There also appear to be ...