Rheumatoid arthritis: causes and risk factors

The complexity of the onset of the disease makes it difficult to determine the precise factor that causes it.


The things that cause rheumatoid arthritis have not been exactly identified. Other than psychological, environmental, hormonal, genetic and immunological factors, smoking is often identified by doctors as being a possible factor that triggers the disease.

A major life event such as a bereavement, intense joy or a divorce could also be triggering factors. The variation in pain that can occur during pregnancy and after childbirth points to a hormonal origin.


The illness can also have a genetic component (known as “predisposition”), which provide a fertile ground for other triggering factors to take effect. Research is being conducted in this area and has already successfully identified genes that could explain certain family predispositions.

Last updated: 17/12/2018

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