Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Last Updated: May 26, 2019

Definition - What does Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) mean?

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that is caused by a dysfunctional immune system which attacks the synovium (lining of the joints) in the wrist and small bones of the hands and feet. The disorder causes painful inflammation in the joints that leads to destruction of the cartilage and bone over time. The long-term effects of this chronic inflammation can also cause damage to the organs such as the eyes and lungs.

WorkplaceTesting explains Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis is usually found in women, people who are obese, smoke, or have a family history of the condition. It is common for the disorder to present at the age of 40 or 60 years. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, swollen and stiff joints, weight and energy loss, and restricted movement. There is no cure but treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) at the early onset stage is recommended. Other treatments include steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Employers of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers need to understand that the disorder is characterized by flares, which are periods where the inflammation is severe. During these flares, activity should be reduced to manage the symptoms. The disorder can put the sufferer at risk of further medical conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, heart and lung disease, stroke, and lymphoma.

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