ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Arthritic hands. Coloured X-ray of the hands of a 74 year old patient with severe rheumatoid arthritis in all of the fingers. The thumbs are at centre. This is polyarthritis, which means that more than five joints are affected. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks 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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