Arthritis: Not a Single Disease

Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. Arthritis is not a single disease. Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

Any part of your body can become inflamed or painful from arthritis. Some rheumatic conditions can result in debilitating, even life-threatening complications or may affect other parts of the body including the muscles, bones, and internal organs.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis can affect anyone at any age, including children. The incidence of arthritis increases with age, but nearly three out of every five sufferers are under age 65. If left undiagnosed and untreated, many types of arthritis can cause irreversible damage to the joints, bones, organs, and skin.

Osteoarthritis :

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, results from wear and tear. The pressure of gravity causes physical damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to:

  • pain
  • tenderness
  • swelling
  • decreased function

Rheumatoid Arthritis :

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium (cell lining inside the joint). Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, potentially disabling disease which causes:

  • joint pain
  • stiffness
  • swelling
  • loss of joint function

While the cause remains elusive, doctors suspect that genetic factors are important. Rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to diagnose early because it can begin gradually with subtle symptoms.

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