Reference to arthritis is found in texts at least as far as 4500 BC. A text dated 123 AD first describes symptoms that appear similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
The details were noted among skeletal remains of Native Americans found in Tennessee. Bruce Rothschild showed that Tennessee bones belonged to some of the earliest sufferers of RA, and even today Native Americans tend to acquire the disease more often than people in other ethnic groups.
While examining the bones from the Tennessee site researchers found signs of arthritis with no evidence of tuberculosis. Jim Mobley, much later found spikes of rheumatoid arthritis along with tuberculosis. He suggested that the hypervigilant immune system is protective against tuberculosis at the cost of an increased risk of autoimmune disease