Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are common conditions that cause pain, swelling, and limited movement. They affect joints and connective tissues around the body. Millions of people in the U.S. have some form of arthritis.
Arthritis means redness and swelling (inflammation) of a joint. A joint is where 2 or more bones meet. There are more than 100 different arthritis diseases. Rheumatic diseases include any condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones. Arthritis is usually ongoing (chronic).
Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are more common in women than men. They are also often linked with old age. But they affect people of all ages.
The 2 most common forms of arthritis are:
Other forms of arthritis or related disorders include:
The cause depends on the type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of the joint over time or because of overuse. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma are caused by the body’s immune system attacking the body’s own tissues. Gout is caused by the buildup of crystals in the joints. Some forms of arthritis can be linked to genes. People with genetic marker HLA-B27 have a higher risk of ankylosing spondylitis. For some other forms of arthritis, the cause is not known.
Some risk factors for arthritis that can’t be avoided or changed include:
Risk factors that may be avoided or changed include:
Each person’s symptoms may vary. The most common symptoms include:
These symptoms can look like other health conditions. Always see your provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will take your medical history and give you a physical exam. Tests may also be done. These include blood tests such as:
Other tests may be done, such as:
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how what type of arthritis you have, and how severe the condition is. A treatment plan is tailored to each person with his or her health care provider. There is no cure for arthritis. The goal of treatment is often to limit pain and inflammation and help ensure joint function. Treatment plans often use both short-term and long-term methods. Short-term treatments include:
Long-term treatments include:
Arthritis treatment can include a team of health care providers such as:
Because arthritis causes joints to worsen over time, it can cause disability. It can cause pain and movement problems. You may be less able to carry out normal daily activities and tasks.
There is no cure for arthritis. But it’s important to help keep joints working by reducing pain and inflammation. Work on a treatment plan with your healthcare provider that includes medicine and therapy. Work on lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life. Lifestyle changes include: