Dr. Shawn Slack, MD, a rheumatologist with The Everett Clinic discusses rheumatoid arthritis. It is a very common disease and affects women a bit more frequently than men. Rheumatoid arthritis starts with joint pain and stiffness as well as joint swelling. It can affect any joint except for the lower spine. It can steadily progress, but if diagnosed early enough it can be treated effectively. Medication is monitored to make sure that it doesn't negatively affect a patients liver enzymes or white blood cell counts.