Prognosis for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

Disability of RA

Rheumatoid Arthritis can lead to sudden disability. It is unknown what causes sudden weakness of tissues which surround the joints, such as tendons, ligaments, and the muscles themselves. With medication, these disabilities can often be controlled. However, permanent damage to joint tissues can cause gradually more drastic and permanent disability.

Deformity of RA

Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause a myriad of deformities. Doctors give them colorful names such as swan neck deformity and boutonniere deformity.  According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, these particular hand deformities affect half of all RA patients.
In addition to erosion of the bone or cartilage itself, deformity may be caused by damage to joint supporting tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Swelling may be extreme, forcing joints to become dislocated. Rheumatoid nodules may also form with the possibility of becoming large and unsightly.

Daily living with RA

It is commonly stated that most Rheumatoid Arthritis cases are progressive for the life of the patient. Life with RA gets steadily more difficult. A Wikipedia report states, “Daily living activities are impaired for most individuals. After 5 years of disease, approximately 33% of sufferers will not be working. After 10 years, approximately half will have a substantial functional disability.” Many studies have shown similar statistics.

Death and RA

Most sources of Rheumatoid Arthritis research site an observable lifespan reduction. Some studies estimate that at 10 to 15 years. Others quantify the decrease as 15 to 20%. Unfortunately, even with advances in testing and treatment, statistics show that the mortality gap for Rheumatoid Arthritis has not closed. Some studies show that it actually continues to widen. One study literally states that on the day of diagnosis, mortality risk doubles. The most common reasons include increased risk of heart disease and cancer, increased risk of deadly infection due to medically suppressed immune system, and damage to vital organs caused by RA.

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