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Definition of Arthritis

Arthritis is defined as a condition leading to pain, loss of movement and inflammation of a joint or joints. This inflammation usually results in swelling, pain- from minor to extreme, and stiffness resulting from infection. This disease also sees patients suffering from metabolic disturbances, trauma and degenerative changes.Arthritis has over a 100 forms, though the most common genres are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

The term Arthritis is often loosely used in connection with rheumatic diseases; however, it must be noted that the different kinds of arthritis comprise only a part of the wide range of rheumatic diseases that are prevalent in people.

Arthritis is a chronic disease that has a long term affect, the disease may be seen in children and elders too. The pain, swelling, stiffness associated with arthritis deviates from time to time and is seen to bring about mild to extreme pain in different people.

While often referred to as if it were a single disease, arthritis is actually an umbrella term used for a group of more than 100 medical conditions that collectively affect nearly 46 million adults and 300,000 children in America alone. While the most common form of arthritis -- osteoarthritis (OA) -- is most prevalent in people over 60, arthritis in its various forms can start as early as infancy. Some forms affect people in their young-adult years as they are beginning careers and families and still others start during the peak career and child-rearing years.

The common thread among these 100-plus conditions is that they all affect the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints - where two or more bones meet. Arthritis-related joint problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tough, smooth tissue that covers the ends of the bones, enabling them to glide against one another) and surrounding structures. Such damage can lead to joint weakness, instability and visible deformities that, depending on the location of joint involvement, can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, using a computer keyboard, cutting your food or brushing your teeth.

For many people with arthritis, however, joint involvement is not the extent of the problem. Many forms of arthritis are classified as systemic, meaning they can affect the whole body. In these diseases, arthritis can cause damage to virtually any bodily organ or system, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, blood vessels and skin. Arthritis-related conditions primarily affect the muscles and the bones.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present.

Many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling (lymph node), weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell, and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.

Constant joint pain at all times tenderness in any of the joints which become painful if the particular part is moved or even while performing regular activities, such as walking, throwing a ball, turning a key, writing, etc.

Inflammation noticed in the joints, culminated with stiffness, redness, swelling, and problem in movements, if the patient notices any deformities in the joints, weight loss for unknown reasons, loss of flexibility in the joints, constant fatigue and weakness, symptoms of Crepitus, which is a condition characterized by a crackling or grating sound or feeling in and around the joints, under the skin and around the lungs, and unknown reasons for fever.

Next Steps:

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Article Last Updated: 08/26/2015