Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disorder that affects joints, causing pain and swelling and restricted mobility.  It most commonly affects hands and wrists but can affect other parts of the body as well. Read on know more about the factors that contribute to this health disorder

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is chronic autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks own body’s tissues. Various studies have shown that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to risk of RA.  It is approximated that 60% of risk for RA is contributed by genetic factors and the remaining 40% by environmental factors. Genetic factors involve the alterations in human genes. Environmental risk factors for developing RA include smoking, silica dust exposure, mineral oils and other system activators and infections. Although the specific cause of RA is currently unknown, research suggests that some factors trigger the development of RA.  These include: 

  • Infectious agents such as bacteria or virus
  • Female hormones
  • Obesity
  • Stressful events such as physical or emotional trauma. 

Various theories have been suggested to understand the causes of RA but none of these were proven. The possible genetic and environmental risk factors of RA includes: 

  1. Genes: Various studies indicate that RA runs through families indicating that it could be heredity.  However, the risk of inheriting this condition is low.
  2. Gender: Women are more susceptible to RA than men indicating that hormone estrogen may play a role.
  3. Smoking: Some evidence indicates that people who smoke are at a greater risk of developing RA. 

A strong surge in RA inflammation is called a flare. This flare increases the symptoms of RA like joint pain, joint swelling and fatigue. The most common causes of RA flares include stress, infection, allergic food, fatigue and pregnancy.