Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, cells and organs. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the lining of the joints. However, in some people, the condition can damage not only the joints but also different body systems, including the heart, lungs, eyes, skin and blood vessels.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, which will cause painful swelling. If left untreated it will result in bone erosion and joint deformity. The inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis can also damage another system of the body. There may be new medications and treatments options that can cure rheumatoid arthritis, but severe cases can still cause physical disabilities.
The signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- The joints may be warm to the touch, tender and swollen
- The stiffness felt in the joints are worse in the morning or after long periods of inactivity
- Weight loss, fatigue, and fever are also experienced by affected individuals.
In its early stages, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the smaller joints in the fingers, the hands and the toes on your feet. But as the disease progresses, the symptoms can spread to other joints such as the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, and shoulders. In almost all cases, the same joints on both sides of the body will experience the same symptoms.
Some people who have rheumatoid arthritis may also experience sign and symptoms that don’t involve the joints. As mentioned earlier, rheumatoid arthritis can affect other organs of the body and it includes:
- Salivary glands
- Nerve Tissues
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
The severity of rheumatoid arthritis may vary from one person to the other. The symptoms may also come and go with periods of remissions – when swelling and pain fade or disappear altogether. As the diseases progress, rheumatoid arthritis will cause deformation of the joints and will shift out of place.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the connective tissue called synovium that lines your joints. The attack will cause inflammation to the synovium, which will result in the cartilage and bone being destroyed within the joints. The ligaments and tendons that hold the joint together will also be affected. It becomes weaker and will stretch that lead to joints losing its shape and alignment.
If you think you are suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis you should seek medical assistance. You may also be entitled to Social Security Disability Benefits. The SSA considered Rheumatoid Arthritis as a medical condition that would make you eligible for SSDI and SSI. Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a “Listing of Medical Impairments” (known as the blue book) that automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).