Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that causes chronic inflammation. With RA, your immune system attacks your body’s tissues and causes painful swelling of the joints. Without treatment, RA can cause severely deformed joints.
The most obvious signs are in the hands and feet. Imaging tests like X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) help doctors assess the severity of joint damage.
RA can also affect other parts of the body, including skin, blood vessels, eyes, and lungs. People with RA may also battle fatigue and general weakness.
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What does rheumatoid arthritis look like?
Keep reading to learn more about how RA affects the body.
One of the distinguishing features of RA can be seen in the hands. Swelling of the knuckle joints and wrists leads to severe pain and stiffness, especially in the morning. Chronic inflammation can cause the fingers to twist in an outward direction. This can take a toll on fine motor skills. In advanced cases of RA, the hands can become disfigured and interfere with quality of life.
Nonsurgical treatments involve medications, injections, and splinting. Splinting helps support the joints but shouldn’t be worn for too long, as it leads to muscle deterioration. If these treatments don’t work, you may need surgery.
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