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E. Minimizing Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Narrator: This is Science Today. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disabling, auto-immune disease which predominantly afflicts the wrist joints, the hand and joints in the feet. Rheumatologist Lindsey Criswell of the University of California, San Francisco says although there's no sure way to lower the genetic risk of disease, she does have suggestions for those who already suffer from it.

Criswell: Incorporating adequate periods of rest, making sure an individual stays well nourished, being very careful not to overuse inflamed joints. Make sure that you do not lose the strength of your muscles around those joints. That's terribly important.

Narrator: Unlike osteoarthritis, which is more common, the onset of rheumatoid arthritis is much more dramatic.

Criswell: They'll wake up during a particular month, they have stiffness for four or five hours in the morning whereas only one or two months ago, they didn't have that at all. Their fingers swell up within a period of a week. It also causes some general symptoms of fatigue, stiffness, muscle achiness.

Narrator: Criswell hopes genetic research may offer better therapies. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.