Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is traditionally considered a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints. It is a disabling and painful inflammatory condition, which can lead to substantial loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction. RA is a systemic disease, often affecting extra-articular tissues throughout the body including the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles.

The name is derived from the Greek rheumatos meaning "flowing", the suffix -oid meaning "in the shape of", arthr meaning "joint" and the suffix -itis, a "condition involving inflammation".

Causes

The cause of RA is still unknown to this day, but has long been suspected to be infectious. It could be due to food allergies or external organisms. Mycoplasma, Erysipelothrix, Epstein-Barr virus, parvovirus B19 and rubella have been suspected but never supported in epidemiological studies. As in other autoimmune diseases, the "mistaken identity" theory suggests that an offending organism causes an immune response that leaves behind antibodies that are specific to that organism. The antibodies are not specific enough, though. They begin an immune attack against, in this case, the synovium, because some molecule in the synovium "looks like" a molecule on the offending organism that created the initial immune reaction - this phenomenon is called molecular mimicry.
But physical and emotional effects, stress and improper diet could play a role in the disease.