SUE FORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SUE FORD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Rheumatoid arthritis. The hands of a patient suf- fering from rheumatoid arthritis, showing pron- ounced swelling around the knuckles. Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by painful, swollen and stiff joints. The disease typically starts in early adulthood and commonly affects the fingers, although any joint can be affected. Unlike osteo- arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system at- tacks the body's own tissues. The condition tends to come and go spontaneously, and the severity and frequency of attacks vary from person to person. Treatment includes drugs, joint replacements and therapy for those disabled by the disease.
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