Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Rheumatoid Arthritis Definition:

A chronic and permanent inflammatory disease of the joints.

Related Terms: Osteoarthritis, Arthritis

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

"Rheumatoid arthritis ... is an autoimmune disease in which the synovial membrane becomes inflamed and thickened. This chronic inflammation can damage the cartilage, leading to pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of a group of disorders termed inflammatory arthritis."

The Arthiritis Foundation based in Atlanta, Georgia, proposed this description circa 2012:

"Rheumatoid arthritis ... is a form of inflammatory arthritis and an autoimmune disease. For reasons no one fully understands, in rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system – which is designed to protect our health by attacking foreign cells such as viruses and bacteria – instead attacks the body’s own tissues, specifically the synovium, a thin membrane that lines the joints. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in the joints, causing pain in the joints and inflammation that’s systemic – meaning it can occur throughout the body.

"Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease, meaning it can’t be cured. Most people with (it) experience intermittent bouts of intense disease activity, called flares. In some people the disease is continuously active and gets worse over time. Others enjoy long periods of remission – no disease activity or symptoms at all. Evidence shows that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to put the disease into remission is the best means of avoiding joint destruction, organ damage and disability."

In Moore v JB Hunt Transport, Justice Ripple of the United States Court of Appeals wrote:

"Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints that causes the joints to swell and to stiffen. It is a chronic condition, permanent in nature."

In Scott v Renton, Justice McLellan of the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick accepted this opinion from experts testifying at trial:

"The medical evidence ... is clear that rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by trauma.... that rheumatoid arthritis is a crippling condition and its effects are worse than osteoarthritis. It affects joints such as the hands, shoulders and knees."

In Taylor v. Liong, Justice Cullen of the Supreme Court of British Columbia accepted this expert evidence:

"An autoimmune disease refers to a body’s immune system failing to recognize its own constituents and attacking them as they would attack a foreign invader. In rheumatoid arthritis for example, which is an autoimmune disease, the immune system will attack the body’s joint’s causing pain and inflammation. "

Doctor Joseph Lankin wrote:

"Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease of unknown specific etiology, progressive in nature, characterized by prominent joint manifestations such as pain, tenderness, swelling, heat, stiffness, limitation of motion, deformity, and disability, usually in multiple joints.

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