What is arthritis?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions affecting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children across the country. Conditions such as bursitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, gout, lupus, and tendinitis are all arthritis-related conditions.

Arthritis is generally characterized by ioint pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. It is most common in women, and can occur in people of all ages but becomes more common with age.

Degenerative arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis, is the most common type. Risk factors include being overweight, family history, age, and previous injuries such as an ACL tear. Osteoarthritis develops when cartilage is worn away and bone begins to rub against bone. If the pain and inflammation becomes severe, it may be necessary to replace the joint.

Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are both inflammatory types of arthritis. Patients suffer from these types of arthritis when their immune systems begin to mistakenly attack their joints, causing inflammation and possibly joint erosion and damage to their internal organs, eyes, and other parts of the body. It is vital to diagnose these illnesses early and treat them aggressively with antirheumatic drugs in order to reduce pain, improve joint function, and prevent damage.

Arthritis can also be caused by an infection contracted through food contamination, a sexually-transmitted disease, or a blood-borne illness.

Medical teams that treat arthritis may include your primary-care doctor, a rheumatologist, and/or an orthopedic surgeon.

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