Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that causes painful, swollen, and deformed joints. It is caused by inflammation of the tissue linings (membranes) of joints and most often affects many small joints of the hands and feet, but may develop in any joint. People with RA usually have chronic joint pain and stiffness. There is no cure for RA, but signs and symptoms can be treated. Persistent arthritis is painful and destroys joints, and about 1 in 10 persons with RA may eventually become severely disabled from joint destruction. Several powerful drugs, named disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), reduce both symptoms and the risk for permanent joint damage. Other drugs, known as glucocorticoids (prednisone), reduce inflammation and improve symptoms. Recent studies suggest that prednisone also can help prevent joint damage in patients who are taking DMARDs. Whether prednisone prevents joint damage in patients who do not use DMARDs is unclear.