RA is the most common cause of inflammatory arthritis. Inflammation of the synovium occurs in a distribution that often includes the proximal interphalangeal and metacarpo-phalangeal joints, along with the wrists and the analogous joints in the feet. Systemic manifestations can include abnormalities of the skin, eyes, lungs, and other organs.
It is important to recognize that discrete rheumatologic diseases share clinical features, and the individual patient may have evidence of more than one disease at a time. Thus, patients with SLE or scleroderma may have inflammatory myositis. Such overlap syndromes require diagnostic vigilance, but often result in therapeutic choices that are particular to the disease manifestation rather than the original diagnosis.
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