Caused by inflammation of the lining of the joints, this is the most common form of arthritis. Learn how to detect and prevent it.
According to the webpage MedlinePlus, rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint, but it is most common in the wrists and fingers. Another basic characteristic is that it tends to affect the joints of both sides of the body. For example, if the knuckles in the right hand are inflamed, the knuckles of the left and are likely to be inflamed as well.
Along with the results of lab tests or X-rays, the general pattern of the joints that are affected make it possible for physicians to diagnose and distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from other conditions.
The U.S. Arthritis Foundation offers some suggestions about how to reduce the risks of this disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. By doing this, people who are overweight can reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis in their knees and, potentially, in their hips
- Avoid joint injuries and try not to do repetitive movements that may damage your joints or lead to a joint injury.
- Talk with your physician about vitamin and mineral supplements. Low vitamin D levels reduce the amount of calcium that the body can absorb.
- Strengthen the muscles that surround the joints, especially those around the knee; this helps reduce the risk of wear on the joint and prevents injury. Doing regular exercise to strengthen the muscles that surround the joints also helps increase bone density.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption to help prevent osteoporosis. Both of these habits weaken bone structure, which increases the risk of a fracture.
Related article: Arthritis also affects the young (article in Spanish)