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What is rheumatoid arthritis?


There are several types of autoimmune disorders that affect millions of Americans in the United States, including multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Such diseases make the immune system attack tissues in the human body, instead of fighting viruses, bacteria and other infections. This can have a dramatic effect on a person's ability to function in life, including the ability to keep a job.


Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when immune system cells move from blood to the joints and tissue lining the joints, causing inflammation and putting pressure on the material that protects the bones, called cartilage. Over time, the cartilage wears down, causing the bones to rub against each other, causing further swelling, warmth and often severe pain.

The disease affects approximately 1 percent of the population in the United States, which amounts to about 3.25 million Americans, including many from Ohio. It typically affects women more than man, by as much as two to three times, but men generally tend to have more symptoms than women. It typically affects a person's joints, but might also attack the eyes, lungs, heart and even skin, nerves and blood. Although it may affect young children or the elderly, it generally begins in middle age. Professionals are still uncertain what causes rheumatoid arthritis, but theories suggest that smoking may play a role. Genetics may also be a factor.

Social Security Disability benefits are designed to help Americans with some financial relief if they suffer from a disabling condition, whether it is an injury, illness or mental condition that prohibits them from maintaining gainful employment. This can include rheumatoid arthritis.

Source: WebMD, "What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?" Accessed on July 10, 2017

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