Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that most frequently affects the joints. It affects the lining of the joints, which can cause painful swelling and lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. Symptoms can include morning stiffness, tender, warm, and swollen joints, bumps of tissue under the skin, and fatigue, fever, and weight loss. It may also affect other parts of the body such as the skin, eyes, and blood vessels. This disorder is most common in women and typically occurs after age 40. It occurs when the patient’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, eventually leading to inflammation and swelling. The reason for this is unknown, but may be genetic.
Oral and topical medications are available to reduce pain and inflammation. A newer group of biologic injectable medicines can slow down disease progression by targeting the immune system directly and interfering with the inflammatory process.