In this video animation you'll see how the immune system mistakes healthy tissue for a foreign invader.
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Learn about Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that may affect many joints in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease mainly characterized by inflammation of the lining or synovium of the joints. Joint involvement is always symmetrical meaning that joints on both sides’ right and left of the body are affected at the same time. Rheumatoid arthritis may start in any joint but frequently affects the smaller joints in the hand. Common symptoms include fatigue, joint stiffness particularly in the morning and when sitting for long periods of time; flu-like symptoms including a low-grade fever. Rheumatoid nodules or lumps of tissue under the skin these appear in about 1/5 of people with RA; loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, anemia, cold and/or sweaty hands and feet. The exact cause of RA is not known but we do know that the immune system plays an important part in RA. In a healthy immune system, the white blood cells produce antibodies that protect the body against foreign substances. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system mistakes healthy tissue for a foreign invader and attacks it. In addition to the inflammation of the synovial lining, the surrounding muscles and tendons are also weakened. TNF a proinflammatory cytokine produced by the immune system plays a crucial role in causing joint inflammation. Recently, anti-TNF therapy has been found to be useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.