Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease characterized by joint inflammation. Inflammation presents with joint pain, swelling, rise of joint temperature on palpation (warmth) and decrease in function.
The disease characteristically affects joints of hands and feet symmetrically. Patients often complain of prolonged morning stiffness (hours). The duration of stiffness tends to correlate with a degree of synovial inflammation and decreases when the disease is in remission.
With persistence of disease, the inflamed synovium becomes hyperplastic and is invaded by inflammatory cells. In the process of inflammation molecules
RA is not only a disease of joints but is also a systemic disease associated characteristically with ‘extra-articular’ syndromes such as vasculitis, pulmonary fibrosis, pleuritis, pericarditis, mononeuritis multiplex, Sjögren's syndrome and/or ocular inflammation (scleritis, uveitis).