By Anna Hazard
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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder whereby a body's immune system targets its own body tissues, particularly joint linings. The skin, heart, lungs, eyes, blood vessels, and nerves may also be targeted. RA distinguishes itself from other types of arthritis by symmetrically affecting both joints on both sides of the body at the same time (ie both wrists, both knees, both elbows). Rheumatoid arthritis often first manifests in smaller joints such as fingers & toes and can eventually degenerate into bone & cartilage erosion and complete joint deformity.
Symptoms of RA vary in severity and can fall into remission or flare-up in increased bouts of disease activity. These symptoms can include swelling, warmth, & pain in the joints, fatigue, and stiffness after long periods of rest or inactivity. Risk factors for RA include gender (with females more likely to develop it), family history of RA, environmental influences such as smoking, asbestos, and silica, as well as age. While RA can occur at any age, most people affected are between the ages of 40 and 60. Currently nearly 1% of the American population (~1 million people) are affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
Below are a selection of smartphone apps for both iOS & Android that are specifically tailored to help with the rheumatoid variety of arthritis. Many take the form of management & disease tracking tools that are also helpful for producing disease data for the user's healthcare providers, give general information, support, nutritional advice, physiotherapy & exercise routines, or act as overviews & guides to RA. While generally there are more rheumatoid arthritis focused apps available on the Android platform, there are still a good selection of cross-platform entries that will also work on iOS.