What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a common condition that affects various components of the body including the cartilage, joints, bones, muscles, and connective tissues. If you suffer from this condition, you likely experience impairments to your normal movement and functioning. Thankfully, for most types of arthritis, there are way to relieve your symptoms.

There are over 100 different forms of arthritis that affect people of many different ages. The three most common types of arthritis are: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis. In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • The most common types of arthritis
  • Different causes of this condition
  • How doctors test for arthritis
  • Treatment options that could work for you

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis affects approximately 27 million people in the United States, making it the most common form of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that results when the cartilage surrounding the joints begins to wear down. The degeneration of the cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, leading to:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Other issues within the affected joint

The cause of osteoarthritis is not fully understood; however certain risk factors that are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis have been identified, including increasing age, obesity, previous joint injuries, overuse of a joint, weak musculature, and certain genetic factors. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body however it most commonly affects the joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

The symptoms associated with osteoarthritis tend to develop gradually and usually include joint pain and stiffness that occurs after rest and improves with physical activity. Osteoarthritis is sometimes referred to as a progressive, degenerative joint disease as it is a disease that worsens over time. In the early stages of osteoarthritis, the pain may be moderate and intermittent, and may not have a negative impact on an individuals’ daily functioning.

While some patients may not progress past the early stage of the disease, other patients progress to later and more debilitating stages of the disease. In the later stages of the disease the joint pain and stiffness worsens. For individuals with severe cases of osteoarthritis, normal activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and even sleeping can become difficult. At the present time there is no cure for osteoarthritis but maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and other treatment options may help to reduce pain, improve joint functioning, and slow the progression of the disease.

What is rheumatoid arthritis? 

Rheumatoid arthritis is another common type of arthritis, affecting approximately 1.5 million people in the United States. Women are three times more likely than men to develop this disease. Women are usually affected by rheumatoid arthritis between the ages of 30 and 60, while men are usually affected later in life.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is the result of inflammation of the membranes that make up the joint tissue lining. Rheumatoid arthritis causes:

  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Joints that are often warm to the touch
  • Organ damage, in more severe cases

Rheumatoid arthritis can often lead to severe joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly seen bilaterally, meaning that if a joint on one side of the body is affected by inflammation, the same joint on the other side of the body is usually affected as well. The severity of t