Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the lining of joints and surrounding tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease, which usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally. If untreated, it can lead to long-term joint damage with resultant chronic pain, loss of function, and disability. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic illness in which the joint is the primary target. It may occur at any age, most commonly in women in middle age. The physicians of Arthritis & Rheumatology Associates of Palm Beach will develop a treatment plan that may include medications, exercise, physical therapy, and possibly a surgical approach for those who have had long term damage.