Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder leading to chronic inflammatory response that typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. It occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes can affect other organs of the body — such as the skin, eyes, lungs and blood vessels. Although rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, it usually begins after age 40. The disorder is much more common in women than in men. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage.