Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis. That means that it causes swelling and fluid to occur in affected joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the large joints of the body, as well as the hands and the feet.
It is usually symmetrical.
Sometimes Rheumatoid arthritis can start slowly, occurring in one joint then another and sometimes with time and space between affected joints. This is what we call ‘palindromic’ rheumatoid arthritis. Other times, it starts symmetrically with many joints affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not thought to be caused by an infection, but I have noticed many patients develop the onset of arthritis after a ‘flu like’ illness. It may be that the flu like illness is just the activation of the immune system prior to the rheumatoid arthritis occurring in the body.