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Overview of Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Types.

types of arthritis and how they affect a bone

Arthritis is very common, affecting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children around the world. It is often referred to as “joint pain” or “joint disease” and can affect people of all ages, sexes, and races. But to understand what it is, we need to take a closer look at it along with its causes and symptoms.


So, what is Arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. Its symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, etc. Any joint in the body can be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and spine. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, but two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Osteoarthritis (OA)

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis which is mostly known as “wear and tear” arthritis. This occurs when the cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of your bone gradually is worn down, resulting in pain, discomfort, and decreased quality of life.


Cartilage is the connective tissue in your joints which protects them by absorbing the shock and friction created while moving. A reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage, or its erosion, causes osteoarthritis. Sometimes infection or injury to the joints can exacerbate or accelerate this natural breakdown of cartilage tissue.

Osteoarthritis Symptoms:

  1. Deep, aching pain
  2. Trouble gripping things, bending over, squatting, climbing stairs, walking etc.
  3. Morning stiffness that typically lasts less than 30 minutes
  4. Stiffness even after resting

Often the joints may be:

  1. Warm to the touch
  2. Red, swollen and hard to move


Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is an autoimmune disease which can cause severe joint damage. People who have rheumatoid arthritis get lumps and bumps on their skin called “rheumatoid nodules”, often located over joints such as the knuckles, elbows, or heels. This gives rise to extreme discomfort, pain, and requires treatment.


Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body which affects the “synovium”. The synovium is a soft tissue in your joints that produces synovial fluid which nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints. RA can eventually lead to the destruction of both bone and cartilage inside the joint. The exact cause of the immune system’s attacks is still unknown, but scientists have discovered genetic markers that increase your chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms:

  1. Pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints from your hands, shoulders, knees, ankles, jaw to the neck. It generally affects multiple joints.

  2. More than one swollen joint and aching pain

  3. When the knuckles on your left hand are red, swollen and inflamed, the knuckles on your right hand probably will be as well.

  4. Morning stiffness that can last for hours or even most of the day.

  5. Exhaustion, feeling fatigued and loss of appetite.

While there’s no cure for arthritis, quick diagnosis of arthritis and its type along with the right treatments can greatly reduce your pain and help you live a better life. In addition to the treatments your doctor recommends, you can make a number of lifestyle changes that may help you manage your arthritis like regular exercise, eating the right food etc.

To get relief through regular treatment, visit a practicing clinic just like Don Valley, who can take the best care of you and help you beat arthritis.