Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disorder. RA is the most common inflammatory arthritis that targets synovial joints, resulting in synovitis, synovial hypertrophy, excess synovial fluid, and the development of pannus, cartilage and bone destruction, autoantibody production, and systemic symptoms which potentially leads to debilitating and irreversible joint destruction (Figure 1). RA presents as a symmetric inflammatory polyarthritis involving the hands, wrists, and feet, however, there are several important extra-articular manifestations (Nakken et al., 2017; Littlejohn and Monrad, 2018).
Ebers Papyruralies described a condition similar to RA in 1500 BC. Several reports have suggested over time that Egyptian mummies were found to have deformities similar to arthritis, however only in 1800 this condition was named RA by Garrod, replacing the old terms arthritis deformans and rheumatic gout (Kourilovitch et al., 2014). About 1% of the world’s population is affected by RA, women three times more than men, can present at any age but it is most frequent between the ages of 40 and 50.
It can cause a disabling and painful condition, which can substantially lead to loss of functioning and mobility if not adequately treated. The early recognition of this disease with its extra-articular manifestations can lead to faster time to treatment and better health outcomes, in addition to preserved joint functionality (Scott et al., 2010; McInnes and Schett G., 2017).