Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that targets the synovial lining between the joints. Because the synovial fluid serves as a lubricant for smooth movement, rheumatoid arthritis can cause severe pain and loss of function. Rheumatoid arthritis of the hands and feet are the most common variations of the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the body in a symmetric pattern such that if one hand is affected, the other hand will likely be affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disorder in which the body sends misguided messages to immune cells to attack healthy body tissues. While there is no cure for RA, early diagnosis and treatment can significantly slow progression of the disease and prevent subsequent loss of mobility.