That means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the cells that line your joints.
The attacks usually cause the joints to become swollen, stiff and painful.
After a number of years, the immune system can damage the joint itself, as well as the cartilage and bone.
You could be at risk of rheumatoid arthritis if have any of these five warning signs.
“Most people aren’t aware of rheumatoid arthritis,” said the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.
“About one in a hundred people have it.”
“So, when people do get symptoms, they put them down to some other cause.
“‘I’ve overdone it at the gym/gardening/playing with the kids.’ These are all typical explanations people have for the pain in their hands or feet, and explain why they may not go to their GP straight away.
“Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can come and go, so you may feel OK again for a while. And then the symptoms come back again.”
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can include joint pain and stiffness.
The pain is usually a throbbing pain that’s worst in the mornings and after a period of not changing posture for a long time.
Morning stiffness usually lasts longer than half an hour. If you consistently get morning stiffness, that usually resolves itself within it could be osteoarthritis.
Patients may develop dry eyes or chest pain if their rheumatoid arthritis affects their eyes or heart, the NHS said.
As well as problems with the joints, some people claim rheumatoid arthritis can cause a poor appetite.
The auto-immune condition can be life-changing if symptoms aren’t properly managed.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet, and regularly exercising is crucial for preventing many life-threatening complications of the condition, including heart disease.
Exercise relieves stress, and keeps the joints mobile. It could also help you to lose weight, which may relieve some arthritis pain.
About 400,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis. It’s the second most common type of arthritis in the country.