Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. It causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. RA usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body. It occurs mostly in the:
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RA is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors that trigger an abnormal immune response. Possible causes:
- Genetic factors—Certain genes that play a role in the immune system are associated with RA development.
- Defects in the immune system can cause ongoing inflammation.
- Environmental factors—Certain infectious agents, such as some viruses or bacteria, may increase susceptibility to RA.
- Other factors—Some evidence suggests that hormonal factors may promote RA development in combination with genetic factors and environmental exposure.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.