Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory disease that causes pain, stiffness, warmth, redness and swelling in joints. Over time, the affected joint can become misshapen, misaligned and damaged. Tissue lining the joint can become thick, and may wear away surrounding ligaments, cartilage and bone as it spreads. Rheumatoid arthritis usually occurs in a symmetrical pattern, meaning that if one knee or hand has it, the other usually does, too.
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