If the knuckles of your hands swell up and you think you have arthritis, stop a moment. Arthritis is a general term that is used in combination with other words such as "rheumatoid" and "osteo-" to describe your medical condition more fully.
If a part of your hand such as the palm or wrist or your knuckles begins to swell up and ache, and the pain and stiffness seem to be at their worst when you first wake up in the morning but are there one day and gone the next, chances are you have rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, generally results from wear and tear of the synovium by the bones on the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by a defect in the immune system that affects the synovium, the thin sheath that surrounds the joints, to break down while rheumatoid arthritis may make your fingers turn away from your thumb at about a 45-degree angle. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other organs in the body, including the catdiovascular system and the lungs, which can become inflamed from the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis has an unpredictable nature. It may flare up without warning and be a constant problem for several years before disappearing completely. This can be the disease's most frustrating aspect, since just as the symptoms have subsided for a while and you think you're over them, they can appear again without warning.
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