We describe the RA scanner, a novel system for the examination of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The RA scanner is based on a novel laser-based imaging technique which is sensitive to the optical characteristics of finger joint tissue. Based on the laser images, finger joints are classified according to whether the inflammatory status has improved or worsened. To perform the classification task, various linear and kernel-based systems were implemented and their performances were compared. Special emphasis was put on measures to reliably perform parameter tuning and evaluation, since only a very small data set was available. Based on the results presented in this paper, it was concluded that the RA scanner permits a reliable classification of pathological finger joints, thus paving the way for a further development from prototype to product stage.