Article

Arthritis

Last reviewed: March 16, 2024

Arthritis is a disorder associated with tenderness and swelling of one or more joints of the body. The common symptoms of arthritis are stiffness and joint pain, which usually worsen with growing age. The most common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). It is mostly experienced in the following parts of the body:

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the United States. About 300,000 children and 50 million adults have some form of arthritis. The symptoms of this disease normally develop over time, but they may also be felt suddenly at any age. The typical age for developing RA is 30 to 50. However, it can affect younger adults, teens, and children as well.

OA often develops after 50 to 60 years of age, but certain studies reveal radiographic evidence of OA occurring in females in their 40s. Being overweight causes a higher risk of having OA.

Causes

There are several causes of developing arthritis, which includes:

Symptoms

The symptoms of arthritis are different depending on the type of arthritis. They can be mild in some people however in others they can be severe. The most common ones include: Swelling Stiffness Redness Pain Warmth Tenderness Decreased range of movement

Risk factors

The following can be the most common risk factors for arthritis:

Types

Arthritis is a vast term that includes more than a hundred different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a most common type of arthritis. It causes wear and tear damage to a joint’s cartilage (the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint). Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and ensures nearly frictionless motion of the joints, but damage to the cartilage results in bone grinding directly on other bones, resulting in pain and limited mobility. This wear and tear can occur in elder age, but it can develop earlier owing to infection or an injury.

OA is also characterized by changes in the bones and damage to the connective tissues that attach muscles to bones and hold the joints together. If the cartilage in a joint is badly damaged, the lining of the joint may become swollen and inflamed.

Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is another common type of arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder. It develops when the immune system attacks the tissues of the body, leading to swelling of joints and other organs of the body.

This inflammatory response affects the synovium, a soft tissue in the joints that produces fluid for nourishing the cartilage and lubricating the joints. This inflammatory response eventually damages the bone as well as cartilage inside the joint. The exact cause of the attacks on the immune system is unknown however scientists have discovered that there are a few genetic markers that increase the risk of RA up to five times.

Gout: Gout is a common type of inflammatory arthritis that is severely painful. It commonly affects one joint at a time(usually the big toe joint). When the symptoms get worse, it is known as flares. When there are no symptoms, it is called remission.

Fibromyalgia: It is a form of arthritis that causes pain in the entire body (also called widespread pain), fatigue, sleep problems, and also emotional and mental disorders.

Childhood Arthritis: One of the most common types of childhood arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). It can lead to physical damage to joints forever and result in permanent disability.

Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune, chronic disease that damages many different
parts of the body. The immune system of the body attacks itself as it can’t decipher between healthy tissue and foreign factors, like viruses and bacteria.

Treatment

Arthritis can’t be cured, but certain treatments exist that can help manage the condition. The treatment plan depends upon the severity of the disorder, its symptoms, and the patient’s overall health status.

Conservative (nonsurgical) treatments can include:

Works cited

Last reviewed and updated by on Mar 16, 2024

Dr. Jessica is a registered nurse and educator with 20 years of experience in critical care emergency nursing, specializing in patient care, education, and evidence-based practice. She holds multiple certifications and serves as a Patient Safety Coordinator.

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