Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

Though none of the rheumatoid arthritis causes is definitely known, the disease occurs when body’s immune system goes haywire and starts attacking its own healthy tissues, particularly joint linings. The disease is a chronic inflammatory condition which affects all the tissues, but the most severely affected parts are the joints.

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown. It is believed that it results from genetic as well as environmental triggers. Although some researchers are of opinion that a bacterial or viral infection may trigger the disease in a genetically vulnerable individual, no infection or infectious organism has been found to cause rheumatoid arthritis.

It has been observed that, with the initiation of rheumatoid arthritis, some of body’s immune cells recognize a type of body’s own protein as a foreign invader. However, it is not known that out of a number of proteins, which one is identified so. Some proteins are produced as a response to a viral, bacterial or fungal infection, while some have genetic connections or other causes.

Immune cells called lymphocytes react to this protein to release cytokines. Cytokines are chemical messengers which initiate more inflammation and destruction. In rheumatoid arthritis, the main site inflammation is the synovium, which is the thin membrane lining the joints. The inflammation also spreads to other parts of the body, resulting not only in joint damage, but also in inflammation, fatigue, chronic pain and disabled function.

Cytokines or inflammatory agents are many, but the most significant in point of view of rheumatoid arthritis are TNF, i.e. tumor necrosis factor, and interleukin-1. These are believed to be the triggers for the process of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, some treatments for the disease are for blocking these cytokines, to reduce inflammation and joint damage.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Causes

Risk factors can also be considered in a way to be rheumatoid arthritis causes. First risk factor is to be a woman. Amongst the rheumatoid arthritis patients, 70% are women. The risk even increases in women, who have not undergone pregnancy and also in those, who have recently delivered a baby.

Another risk factor is having rheumatoid arthritis in the family, i.e. the disease has a genetic connection and can run in family. Those having particular human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes have higher chances to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those not having the said genes. A relieving fact though is, it is not a rule that those having HLA genes will certainly develop the disease. This means that genes increase the chances of developing rheumatoid arthritis, but there should also be involvement of other factors. Examples of these other factors are old age, cigarette smoking, etc.

Sex hormones are also considered to play a role in rheumatoid arthritis, because of its disproportionate distribution in females, its remission during pregnancy and recurrence in early postpartum period and reduced occurrence in women taking oral contraceptives. A risk factor for the disease may also be hyperprolactinemia.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes are not definitely known at present, but considering these possibilities will certainly help in controlling the development of the disease, at least to some extent.