Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, is an inflammatory, autoimmune disorder that begins by harming joints and ligaments and attacking the body’s own tissues. Advanced cases of RA may lead to worn away cartilage and bones. RA is characterized by joint and muscle pain, aches, and stiffness, fatigue, and fever. The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, however, experts have noted a relationship between RA and smoking, exposure to silica, viral or bacterial infections, and chronic periodontal disease. It is also thought to be hereditary in some cases. Those with RA are thought to be at risk for other conditions, such as heart attacks, carpal tunnel syndrome, chest pain, difficulty breathing, corneal abrasions, and Sjögren’s syndrome (ear/mouth dryness).