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Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common inflammatory arthritis in the community. It is an autoimmune disease. Our immune system normally focuses on fighting bacteria and virus, but in rheumatoid arthritis, it has gone the wrong direction resulting in inflammation of the lining of the joint capsule. This inflamed tissue is highly destructive and results in permanent deformity of the joints.
It affects roughly 1% of the community with a peak age of onset between 35-50 years. Females are more commonly affected. It is more common in smokers and there is some evidence that smoking results in more aggressive disease.