What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. A joint is the area where two bones meet. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
Signs of Arthritis
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your medical history.
The physical exam may show:
- Fluid around a joint
- Warm, red, tender joints
- Difficulty moving a joint (called “limited range of motion”)
Some types of arthritis may cause joint deformity. This may be a sign of severe Osteoarthritis.
Blood tests and joint x-rays are often done to check for infection and other causes of arthritis.
What are Arthritis Symptoms?
Arthritis causes joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. Symptoms can include:
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Reduced ability to move the joint
- Redness of the skin around a joint
- Stiffness, especially in the morning
- Warmth around a joint
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, such as when you walk. Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.
Joint inflammation may result from:
- an autoimmune disease (the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue)
- a broken bone
- general “wear and tear” on joints
- infection, usually caused by bacteria or virus
Usually the joint inflammation goes away after the cause goes away or is treated. Sometimes it does not. When this happens, you have chronic arthritis. Arthritis may occur in men or women. Osteoarthritis is the most common type.
The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and improve function.
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