Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common inflammatory joint disease. It is also the disease that causes the most damage and deformities in the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common inflammatory joint disease. It is also the disease that causes the most damage and deformities in the joints.

It manifests itself with pain, swelling, stiffness, loss of movement and deformity, especially in small joints such as the joints of the hands and feet. In addition to the hands and feet, it can also affect the knee, hip and shoulder joints. It holds the joints symmetrically, that is, it is bilateral, not unilateral.

The disease is an autoimmune disease. The immune system fights against its own cells for an unknown reason. Immune system cells collect especially in small joints and body cells are destroyed by secreted enzymes, cytokines and antibodies.

It is a systemic disease. Apart from the joints, the disease can also affect many extra-articular tissues such as the skin, blood vessels, eyes, heart, lungs and muscles.

It is a chronic disease. Joint deformities and tissue damage occur over a long period of time. The disease occurs in the form of exacerbations and silent periods.



The disease often involves more than one joint symmetrically. In the joints, the soft tissue also swells.

Reasons:

  • The cause of the disease is not fully known. However, it is more common in those with a family history of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Although the disease can be seen at any age, it is common in women between the ages of 20-40. This may be due to the estrogen hormone, but it has not been proven yet.
  • It is more common in smokers than non-smokers.
  • There is a genetic predisposition. Although direct transmission from parents has not been described, the HLA-DR4 gene has been associated with the disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients. It can be said that it is caused by some unknown environmental or personal reasons in people with a genetic predisposition for the disease. The disease can also be seen in people who do not have a genetic predisposition.
  • It can be seen in every society, but its incidence is higher in some races. It is thought that this may be related to genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
  • Climate factor is not effective on the development of the disease. It can be seen in any climate. However, the symptoms of the disease may be more severe in warm climates.

Joint structure:

Joints are structures where two or more bones come together, allowing the body to move. There are several types of joints. The most mobile of these are the synovial joints.

In rheumatoid arthritis, this is seen in mobile synovial joints. The disease occurs as a result of inflammation of the synovial tissue of these joints. Over time, it spreads to other organs outside the joint.

The structures that make up the synovial joints are:

  • Bursa: These are cushions filled with synovial fluid. They act as a buffer between the bones, tendons and muscles around the joint.
  • Joint ligaments: They connect the bones that make up the joint and provide stability.
  • Joint capsule: Joint capsule also helps stability like joint ligaments. The synovial membrane lining the surface of the joint capsule secretes synovial fluid.
  • Synovial fluid: It prevents abrasion by making the joint surfaces slippery and nourishes the cartilage.
  • Cartilage: It gives flexibility to the joint, prevents the wear of the bone surfaces by distributing the load, and ensures the harmony of the joint surfaces with each other.
  • Subchondral bone: With its special structure, it plays an important role in the regular distribution of pressure on the bones.

Complications:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: It is the pressure of the nerves and vessels in the wrist due to the disease. There may be pain, numbness, tingling. Steroid injection or surgical options may be tried.
  • Widespread infection : With the spread of inflammation in the joints to other organs, lung, heart, vein, and eye infections may develop.
  • Joint damage: Disease-related deformities may occur in the joints.
  • Heart and lung problems: A heart muscle or lung infection may develop.