Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. It can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints as well as other organs in the body. While it is a chronic illness, meaning that it can last for years, patients may experience long periods without symptoms. It can lead to the destruction of the cartilage, bone, and ligaments, causing deformity of the joints.
Symptoms may include fatigue, loss of energy, and lack of appetite, low-grade fever, muscle and joint aches and stiffness. Stiffness is more notable in the morning and after periods of inactivity. Joints may become red, swollen, painful and tender. This occurs because the lining tissue of the joint becomes inflamed, resulting in the production of excessive joint fluid.