Arthritis is a general term for conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. Joints are places in the body where bones come together, such as the knees, hips, and shoulders. The ends of the bones are covered with a smooth tissue called cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones and allows the joints to move easily. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage starts to break down. This can happen for a number of reasons. Over time, the cartilage can wear down from overuse. Joints can also be damaged by injury or infection. When the cartilage starts to break down, the bones rub together. This can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness.
There are many different types of arthritis. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It usually develops slowly over time. The first signs of osteoarthritis are often pain and stiffness, especially after exercise or when you get up in the morning. As the condition progresses, the pain can become constant and even interfere with your daily activities. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a less common type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s own immune system attacks the joints. This can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the hands, wrists, and knees. It can also affect the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and ankles. There are many other types of arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis, gout, and lupus.
Arthritis is more common in people over the age of 65. It is also more common in women than in men. People of all races can develop arthritis, but it is more common in people of certain ethnic groups, such as African Americans, Native Americans, and Asians. There are many risk factors for arthritis. Some, such as age and gender, cannot be changed. Others, such as obesity and joint injury, can be changed. Obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis, particularly of the knees and hips. Every pound of extra weight puts extra pressure on the joints. Losing weight can help reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis or can help relieve the symptoms if you already have the condition. Joint injury is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. Joints that have been injured in the past are more likely to develop arthritis later in life. Certain medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing arthritis. These include diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. It can make it difficult to move the joints. In severe cases, it can lead to disability. There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can help relieve the symptoms. These include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and exercise. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged joints.