Arthritis FAQ

Arthritis FAQ

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a group of over 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that cause inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints. The most common type of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis and it is a chronic autoimmune disease.

Osteoarthritis also known as degenerative joint disease, results from the wear and tear of everyday life.

What causes the pain, swelling, and stiffness?

Cartilage normally protects the joint, allowing for smooth movement. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, like when you walk or otherwise bear weight. Without the usual amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing the pain, swelling, and stiffness.

What else could cause joint inflammation?

Inflammation is sometimes caused by a broken bone, infection (usually viral or bacterial), an autoimmune disease (the body attacks itself because the immune system believes a body part is foreign), and from general wear and tear on the joints.

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Will the pain ever go away completely?

With some injuries and diseases, the inflammation does not go away or the amount of joint destruction results in long-term pain and deformity. Treatment, therefore, aims at reducing your pain and discomfort. When this happens you have chronic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of chronic arthritis and is more likely to occur as you age.

What are the most common sites of pain?

The most common sites are the hips, knees, fingers, and shoulders.

What are the signs of arthritis?

You could experience joint pain, joint swelling, stiffness (especially in the morning), warmth around a joint, redness of the skin around a joint, and a reduced ability to move a joint.

What else, other than age, can cause my arthritis?

Some other contributing factors to arthritis are: being overweight, previously injuring the affected joint, and using the affected joint in a repetitive action that puts stress on the joint such as typing, ballet, tennis, baseball, and construction work.

Do you have to be elderly to have arthritis?

No, although aging is a causative factor in many types of arthritis, younger people are also susceptible due to sports injuries, obesity, and other various injuries.

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