Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex chronic inflammatory condition which has both musculoskeletal and extra-articular effects. It is the most common inflammatory arthropathy, and has the potential to cause a significant impact on quality of life. The predominant features of the disease are inflammation, pain, reduced levels of function and increased morbidity. Despite the number of treatments available to suppress the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, it is not always possible to establish good control of the disease. It is imperative that the multidisciplinary team are involved with care to ensure that independence is maintained and function optimized. The role of the nurse in the management of rheumatoid arthritis is varied, ranging from providing specialist advice about how to manage the condition to caring for patients who are having joint replacements as a result of the increased levels of pain and damage it can cause.