What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes joint inflammation. This disease affects around 400,000 people in the UK. It can affect adults at any age, but it most commonly starts in middle age. Three times as many women than men are affected by this disease. This type of arthritis is symmetrical, meaning it tends to affect both sides of the body in a similar pattern. It often affects the joints in hands and feet, specifically the knuckles.
What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
Because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, one’s immune system will attack their body’s own tissues, causing characteristic, long-term inflammation. It is currently unknown what triggers this disease. However, there is some evidence that lifestyle factors may increase one’s risk of developing the condition, such as smoking, eating a diet rich in red meats, and drinking a lot of coffee.