Introduction to Arthritis
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.
Know the Symptoms of Major Types of Arthritis
A basic knowledge of the major types of arthritis and symptoms also will better prepare you for doctor appointments. You will find it easier to formulate questions and communicate with your doctor once you are confident that you understand basic facts about arthritis symptoms.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis. The joints are primarily affected, but there can be systemic effects (i.e. organs) as well. Morning stiffness lasting more than an hour, involvement of the small bones of the hands and feet, extreme fatigue, rheumatoid nodules and symmetrical joint involvement (i.e. both knees not one knee) are all characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis predominantly affects the joints, unlike other types of arthritis, which may have systemic effects. The most common symptom associated with osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint after repeated use. Joint pain is often worse later in the day. The affected joints can swell, feel warm and become stiff after prolonged inactivity. Osteoarthritis can occur with other forms of arthritis simultaneously. Bone spurs and bony enlargements are characteristic of osteoarthritis.