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Arthritis: Research News & Information

  • Synopsis: Last Revised/Updated: 2015-06-23 - Arthritis is a group of conditions involving damage to joints of the body and is the most common cause of disability.

Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form of arthritis is: osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and related autoimmune diseases. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage, the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint, to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of joints (synovium). Uric acid crystals, infections or underlying disease, such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis. Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include joint pain and progressive stiffness that develops gradually. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially upon awakening.

Main Document

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States, ahead of both back problems and heart trouble, and has been the most common cause of disability for at least the last 15 years.

Arthritis is a group of conditions, (there are over 150 different forms of arthritis), involving damage to the joints of the body. Arthritis is more common in women than men at all ages and affects all races, ethnic groups and cultures.

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the USA. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. Absenteeism and frequent visits to the physician are common in individuals who have arthritis. Arthritis makes it very difficult for individuals to be physically active and soon become home bound. An estimated 46 million individuals in USA have arthritis and the numbers continue to increase each year. Close to one million individuals are admitted to hospitals each year because of their arthritis.

The most common form, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and autoimmune diseases in which the body attacks itself. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection.

Gouty arthritis is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint, causing inflammation. There is also an uncommon form of gout caused by the formation of rhomboid crystals of calcium pyrophosphate. This gout is known as pseudogout.

The common symptoms for all arthritis disorders include pain, swelling, joint stiffness and a constant ache around the joint(s). Arthritic disorders like lupus and rheumatoid can also affect other organs in the body with a variety of symptoms.

The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is pain.

Pain is often a constant and daily feature of the disease. The pain may be localized to the back, neck, hip, knee or feet. The pain from arthritis occurs due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, muscles strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, painful joints and fatigue.

The most important factor in treatment is to understand the disorder and find ways to overcome the obstacles which prevent physical exercise. While neither Rheumatoid arthritis nor osteoarthritis can be completely prevented, one can reduce the risks by becoming physically active, participating in physical therapy, losing weight and eating healthy.

ABC's of self-management or simple lifestyle changes that enable people to combat arthritis disability:

Factors about arthritis that you should dismiss as myths:


Many people believe that cold climate can cause arthritis. Well, the truth is, weather has nothing to do with arthritis. People in tropical countries or even the Middle East also experience arthritis even if they live in hot climate conditions. While some studies suggest that the coldness can aggravate the pain of arthritis, weather conditions can not cause arthritis.


The importance of diet in your overall health condition can not be overemphasized. Nutrition plays a key role in preventing all types of diseases. While certain joint problems, like gout, are proven to have a strong connection to the food that you eat, arthritis on the other hand can not be prevented or brought about by merely shifting into a good diet plan. Studies have shown that good diet does not stop arthritis from ever happening to anyone. Heredity and the degeneration of your joints and cartilages are the main factors that will determine if you will have arthritis now or later. The food that you eat may aggravate the arthritic symptoms; but it has yet to be studied if certain food choices do cause arthritis.


If your knowledge of arthritis is based solely on the notion that it only affects older people, then you are being misled by your sources. The truth of the matter is that arthritis can affect anyone including children, adolescents, and adults within the middle-age bracket. Since arthritis is closely linked to the overall degeneration of the joints and cartilages, it is not surprising that most arthritis sufferers are older people; however, this disease does not target any particular age group, or gender for that matter. This means that no matter how old you are, you must take measures to prepare your body to delay the onset and fight the symptoms of arthritis.

Ultimate Cure

If you are suffering from arthritis and you have high hopes that this condition can be cured once and for all, then you may be hitching your wagon to a falling star. Once you have arthritis, there can be no going back because there is no cure for arthritis. The best that you can do is to slow down the advancement of the disease and deal directly with the pain.

Serious Physical Limitations

Many people think that arthritis can seriously limit one's physical activities. In fact, some people are afraid that because of this condition they will become highly dependent on their family members for support. Well, arthritis doesn't work like stroke. True enough, during an arthritic attack your joints ache a lot, but it doesn't mean that you have become an invalid. Arthritic people can still be active with their lives.

Blue for Arthritis Awareness

Blue arthritis awareness ribbonThe color blue denotes arthritis awareness. The month of May is designated as arthritis awareness month

Quick Facts: Arthritis

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the USA. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. Absenteeism and frequent visits to the physician are common in individuals who have arthritis. Arthritis can be very difficult for individuals to be physically active and some become home bound.

It is estimated that the total cost of arthritis cases is close to $100 billion of which almost 50% is from lost earnings. Each year, arthritis results in nearly 1 million hospitalizations and close to 45 million outpatient visits to health care centers.

Decreased mobility, in combination with the above symptoms, can make it difficult for an individual to remain physically active, contributing to an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol or vulnerability to heart disease.[citation needed] People with arthritis are also at increased risk of depression, which may be a response to numerous factors, including fear of worsening symptoms.

Statistics: U.S. Arthritis

Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are the most common cause of disability among U.S. adults and have been for the past 15 years. (MMWR 2009;58(16):421-426. [Data Source: 2005 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)])

Latest Arthritis Publications
1 : Post-Traumatic Arthritis: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment : Thomas C. Weiss.
2 : List of Different Types of Arthritis : Disabled World.
3 : Younger Veterans Develop Arthritis at Higher Rates and Younger Age : The Rep for Vet.
4 : Obesity and Knee Arthritis : American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
5 : Etanercept Helps Restore Normal Growth in Children with Juvenile Arthritis : Wiley-Blackwell.
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