Causes and Symptoms of Arthritis

Mar 30, 2016

Causes and Symptoms of Arthritis

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An estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. Although arthritis is very common, it is not very well understood, particularly regarding the origins of the disease. In severe cases, arthritis makes it painful, and therefore difficult, to complete everyday tasks.

What is Arthritis?

To put it simply, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. This inflammation can cause serious pain, discomfort, and even impact one’s ability to complete daily tasks. When someone lives with arthritis, other areas of the body can be affected as well such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and skin.

What Causes Arthritis?

Although the exact cause of arthritis is unknown, there are a few underlying factors that can be linked to the disease including:

  • A deterioration of cartilage around the joints
  • Normal wear and tear of the joints
  • Getting older
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Doing repetitive work using particular joints
  • An injury that progresses that natural breakdown of the joints

Arthritis Symptoms

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Decreased range of motion

Most Common Types of Arthritis

Arthritis is a general term used to classify over 100 types of joint related conditions. Since different types of arthritis cause different types of pain, it is important to understand the differences between them.

Osteoarthritis

This is the most common type of arthritis that involves wear and tear damage to the joint’s cartilage. With enough damage, the bones can begin grinding against each other. This damage can occur over time or as the result of a joint injury or infection.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

In this type of arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule. In cases of RA, fatigue, loss of appetite, slight fever. It can cause joint deformity if not treated properly.

Psoriatic Arthritis

In addition to the common symptoms of arthritis, those suffering from psoriatic arthritis experience pain and stiffness, particularly in the morning.

Fibromyalgia

This type of arthritis is accompanied by altered sleep, fatigue, and mood changes. It is characterized by widespread muscle pain and tenderness, due to tender muscles and soft tissues.

Gout

This is known to cause a sudden burning pain, usually, accompanied by stiffness and swelling, usually of a big toe. Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood that causes crystals to form in your joints.

Risk Factors of Arthritis

  • Genetics. Those with a family history of arthritis are more likely to develop the condition.
  • Age. The chance of developing the disease increase with age
  • Gender. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely than women to develop gout
  • Previous joint injury. If there is a past joint injury, perhaps from sports, the risk increases for developing arthritis

Warning Signs You Could Be Developing Arthritis

  • Pain, swelling, or tenderness in one or more joints
  • Cracking or popping sounds with movement
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Redness or warmth around joints
  • Bony-feeling knobs on the joints or fingers
  • A decreased range of motion

Although there is no cure for arthritis, understanding the disease can help greatly with pain management.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible for physical activity to help arthritis?

Absolutely! Exercise is one of the most effective non-drug treatments for arthritis. It can help to prevent or delay hip surgery and can help keep joints healthy. There are a number of arthritis-friendly exercises like walking, dancing, biking and more.

See All Answers »

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Symptoms vary with the type of arthritis, but in general, arthritis is characterized by:

  • Lasting joint pain
  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain when touching a joint
  • Problems using or moving a joint
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

Here is more information on the causes and symptoms of arthritis

See All Answers »

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