SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SOVEREIGN, ISM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Arthritic hand. X-ray of the hand of a patient with rheumatoid arthritis. The thumb and finger joints have become inflamed and swollen. This is polyarthritis as it affects more than one joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the body's own tissues, causing progressive joint and cartilage destruction. As the cartilage is worn away, new bone grows as part of the repair process. This causes stiffness and deformity of the fingers. Treatment is with anti- inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy.
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