Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease, which means this disease is throughout the body and not just with the joints. The joints do suffer inflammation but not degeneration. In rheumatoid arthritis there is inflammation in the tissue that surrounds and lines the joint and this inflammation causes stiffness, pain and swelling (fluid build up). People with rheumatoid arthritis have much more stiffness in their joints than somebody with osteoarthritis.
On awakening stiffness can last for about 2 hours after getting up.