Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic, autoimmune disease, is the most
crippling form of arthritis and affects approximately 2.1 million
Americans. This disease is characterized by painful and stiff joints
on both sides of the body that may become enlarged and deformed.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects more women than men (70 percent of
individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are women). Onset of the disease
is usually middle-age, but it does occur in individuals as early as
age 20. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may also have osteoporosis,
a progressive deterioration of bone density.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) is a form of arthritis in
children ages 15 or younger that causes inflammation and stiffness of
joints for more than six weeks. Unlike adult rheumatoid arthritis,
which is chronic and lasts a lifetime, children often outgrow juvenile
rheumatoid arthritis. However, the disease can affect bone development
in the growing child.