About Arthritis – Understanding the Causes and Symptoms 2017-01-26T00:16:46-08:00

What is Arthritis

The word arthritis means “inflammation of the joint”. Inflammation causes swelling, redness, warmth and pain in the joint(s). Some forms of arthritis do not cause these symptoms. Most forms, however, do cause inflammation of the affected joints as the body attempts to respond to injury. The common factor in all forms of arthritis is joint and musculoskeletal pain.

Some types of arthritis occur more often than others. Here we will discuss two of the more common forms of arthritis – osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Common Misconceptions about Arthritis

Many people have false ideas about arthritis. Common fallacies are that:

• There is just one kind of arthritis
• The symptoms of arthritis are always the same
• Only old people get arthritis

Let’s look at these beliefs one by one.

Is there just one kind of arthritis?

No. Over 100 conditions fall under the heading of “arthritis”. Some forms of arthritis cause only mild distress and may affect just one joint. Others can have a severe effect on the entire body. Some forms of arthritis can result in deformity and disability.

Are the symptoms of arthritis always the same?

Despite what many people believe, the symptoms are not always the same. The disease pattern, the severity of pain and disability, and the site of the symptoms can differ for different forms of arthritis. For example, in gout, one type of arthritis, the main symptom is often sudden, acute pain in the great toe.

Do only old people get arthritis?

Older people are more likely to have arthritis. It is not just a disease of the old, however. Many young adults in the prime of their lives develop arthritis. Some forms of the disease even affect children.


Alternative medicine
Treatment methods used in place of conventional medicine

Autoimmune disease
A disease caused by problems with the immune system. The body fails to recognize its own cells and creates antibodies against them.

Complementary medicine
Treatments used to complement (not replace) conventional medicine

A grating sound and sensation caused by bones rubbing together

Glucosamine and chrondoitin
A nutritional supplement that is widely used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis

Swelling, warmth and pain of the joint

A small, rounded mass

Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

A period of time when symptoms of a disease disappear. A remission does not usually last long.

Rheumatoid nodules
Firm, non tender nodules that are most often found in the wrist, knee, elbow, and finger joints

Total hip replacement

Total knee replacement


Now that you know that arthritis affects the joints, let’s look at how the joints work. A joint is any point where two bones meet. There are over 100 joints in the body. Some of these joints move slightly or not at all. Others move freely. Synovial joints are the most complex type of joint. They are found in many parts of the body, including the knees, shoulders, hips, and fingers.

Synovial joints consist of:

• Cartilage: a smooth surface that cushions the end of the bones and acts as a shock absorber

• Joint capsule: a membrane sac that encloses the joint space and retains fluid

• Joint space or joint cavity: a space between the ends of the two bones that contains synovial fluid

• Synovium: an inner lining inside the joint capsule which produces synovial fluid

• Synovial fluid: a fluid that nourishes the joint and keeps it moist
• Ligaments, tendons, and muscles: tissues that allow the joint to move and that help keep the bones stable. Ligaments attach one bone to another. Tendons connect muscles to bone.

In a healthy joint, all of the parts of the joint work together to reduce friction. The joint capsule holds everything in place and movement occurs without pain.

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