Friday, April 10, 2009


When people hear the term "Rheumatoid Arthritis" they are sometimes confused about its relation to normal, age-related degenerative osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis, unlike osteoarthritis, is not caused by normal wear and tear. Rather, it is a vicious, autoimmune disease with no known cause.

Unlike osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis is systemic and attacks not only the articular cartilage and ankylosis of the joints, but also major organ systems such as the lungs, kidneys and heart. It also causes rheumatoid nodules, which stem from a breakdown of the skin and usually form over affected joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can start at any age, but typically does not begin before the age of 18. The likelihood of emergence increases every year between the ages of 18 and 80.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is progressive and permanent. It causes extreme pain and disfigurement. 33% of sufferers will not be able to work 5 years after diagnosis. Within 10 years, 50% suffer from significant disability. Most specialists think that the disease shortens the lifespan of victims by about 5-10 years. The disease can cause blindness, liver failure, anaemia, lymphoma, and osteoporosis. Patients often have persistent fevers, loss of appetite and weight loss.

RA is treated with a number of agents, some of which slow the disease, others of which ameliorate the symptoms. Analgesics to reduce inflammation and Disease Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs such as minocycline, azathioprine and D-penicillamine are used to slow the progression of the illness.

Since this sick causes so much pain and deformity and has no cure but is not highly lethal I rate it a

2 on my "lethality scale" (1-10)
and a 4 on my "disturbing scale" (1-10)

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