Arthritis is a disorder of the joints which can cause inflammation and pain. There are many different types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis: A condition which develops when joints lose the cartilage which naturally protects the bones from touching. This can commonly occur in the fingers, knees, hips, neck and spine and affects most people over the age of 60.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: A chronic condition where the joints become inflamed and then damaged. The small joints of the fingers, thumbs, wrists, feet, and ankles are common problem areas. Rheumatoid arthritis can start in early adulthood and develop with age. Women are also more likely to be affected than men.
Causes and Symptoms
Osteoarthritis is likely to be caused by years of daily wear and tear to the joints, although excess weight, impact exercise and overuse of a joint may also play a role. Usually the body works to repair itself, but in some people this process reduces and osteoarthritis develops. As a result the joint cartilage becomes damaged and worn. Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:
- Pain and stiffness especially in the morning or after rest.
- Reduced mobility.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks the joints and associated tissues, causing damage and inflammation. Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis include:
- A mild fever, weight loss and tiredness
- Inflammation and swelling around joints which may feel warm to touch
- Painless lumps on the skin (nodules) may occur in some cases
Gentle low impact exercise may help strengthen muscles and improve joint condition. Applying heat or ice to joint can help to reduce pain and dietary supplements may also support the management of arthritis.