What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Michele Calleja, MD, FRCR, MRCP; Chief Editor: Felix S Chew, MD, MBA, MEd  more...
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Answer

Answer

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic multisystemic disease of unknown cause. The characteristic feature is persistent inflammatory synovitis usually involving peripheral joints in a symmetrical distribution. Synovial inflammation causes cartilage destruction and bone erosion. Subsequently, joint deformity occurs. The axial skeleton, with the exception of the cervical spine, is affected later and less frequently. The risk factors for cervical spine involvement include frequency of peripheral joint erosion, rheumatoid factor (RF) positivity, use of corticosteroids, long RA duration, and markers of higher disease activity (ESR, CRP, and Disease Activity Score). [1, 2]


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