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Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Scientists across the world are still researching on and enlisting numerous probable causes of rheumatoid arthritis and the exact cause has not been understood till date.

There are a number of theories which point towards various causative factors such as genetic inheritance, infectious cause, environmental factors, etc.

Increased incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in family members of the patients points towards the genetic nature of this disease. Certain genes have also been implicated in the development of rheumatoid arthritis; however not all people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis carry these genes. On the other hand, there are also people who test positive for these genes but have no signs or symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis. Thus, this is clear evidence that it's not just genes that make one prone to rheumatoid arthritis but there are other factors involved as well.

Infections (bacterial, viral or fungal) or certain factors in the environment are also suspected to be a trigger for an abnormal response by the immune system in an individual who is susceptible.

Irrespective of what has triggered the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, the consequence is that there is an abnormal response by the immune system whereby it mistakenly starts attacking joints, tissues surrounding the joints and other organs of the body. Over a period of time, this results in destruction of the cartilage and bone within the joint. There is weakening of the tendons and ligaments around the joint resulting in disturbed alignment of the joint.

Apart from the aforementioned, there are certain factors which put an individual at a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and giving up smoking can help in reducing this risk. Hormonal changes may cause the disease to flare up after pregnancy and during breast-feeding.

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