Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that attacks the body's joints - commonly those on a person's hands and feet. Though the condition affects many people, it is most commonly found in adults and seniors starting at age 30. If you provide at-home senior care for clients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, here's a basic explanation of what it is and how it affects the bodies of those who have it:
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, meaning it's caused because the body's immune system begins to attack the joints, causing pain and inflammation. The most common symptoms people experience include pain, swelling and fatigue, all of which can last for days, weeks or months. The disorder can even affect people's eyes, lungs, blood vessels and skin.
How is it different than osteoarthritis?
Many people understandably confuse rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis, but they affect the body and joints differently. Osteoarthritis is caused by factors outside the body that cause wear and tear on a person's body, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the body's immune system. Osteoarthritis affects many of the larger joints, commonly found in people's knees, spine and hips, and it's generally diagnosed later in life. It also doesn't have the same whole-body symptoms as rheumatoid arthritis.