Arthritis is not a disease in and of itself; rather, it’s a term that refers to pain and disease of the joints. It’s a condition that can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, or race, and it’s the leading cause of disability in America today. Currently, there are over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions that have been documented, though two of the most commonly known types are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Although arthritis cannot be cured, the pain can be managed and damage can be mitigated to ensure good quality of life. With its prevalence increasing as people grow older, it’s important to recognize common symptoms of arthritis. Note that you should speak with a doctor or other licensed health care professional if you have specific questions or concerns.
Caused by the degeneration of cartilage between bones, Osteoarthritis is the type that is most commonly associated with aging or injury. It can affect any joint, though the hand, wrist, neck, back, knee, and hip joints are most commonly affected. Symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but often include joint pain that worsens with repetitive use, joint stiffness after periods of inactivity, creaking in the joints, and feeling warmth or swelling in the joints. In severe cases, cartilage loss can lead to pain even at rest or with limited movements.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system attacks the normal tissues of the joints. This causes inflammation of the joints, which can eventually lead to permanent damage. Symptoms of RA may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and redness and warmth of the affected joints. Systemic symptoms may also occur, which may mimic a case of the flu and include muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Also, the lungs and heart may be affected, which can cause severe pain and inflammation. In rare cases, RA may also affect the voice box and eyes, causing hoarseness and dry eyes.