Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that causes destruction of joints over time, making this a chronic condition. It often occurs within families with some studies suggesting a 60-70% genetic risk. The common signs and symptoms are pain and stiffness in the joints on both sides of the body, a loss of function, and potentially joint deformity. The pattern waxes and wanes with those afflicted moving through remission and flare-ups with triggers difficult to pin down.
Any systemic inflammation throughout the body can lead to a litany of conditions with major impacts, but arthritis seems to show changes in the body years before the patient might notice symptoms and seek out treatment.