MAYO CLINIC NEWS NETWORK - A new report from the CDC highlights for the first time the prevalence and health-related characteristics of arthritis across the U.S. and rheumatologist
Mayo Clinic's Dr. Eric Matteson says one form of the chronic condition, rheumatoid arthritis, can affect much more than joints.
Painful and swollen joints. Deformity in the hands.
"Deforming arthritis is one of the signs of rheumatoid arthritis," says Dr. Matteson. He says rheumatoid arthritis is quite different from the more common osteoarthritis.“It's an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system is overactive for some reason thaT we don’t know and decides to attack the lining of the joints, causing inflammation in the lining, which leads to damage in the joint structures, the cartilage, the bone.”There are medications to help slow the disease and offer relief pain but not a way to prevent it. Dr. Matteson says early treatment is important.“Rheumatoid arthritis untreated leads to severe joint damage. It actually shortens life expectancy.”