Arthritis

Alternative Names

Joint inflammation

Definition of Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints, which results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. There are over 100 different types of arthritis.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage. Cartilage normally protects the joint, allowing for smooth movement. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, like when you walk. Without the usual amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.

Symptoms

If you have arthritis, you may experience:

Signs and tests

First, your doctor will take a detailed medical history to see if arthritis or another musculoskeletal problem is the likely cause of your symptoms.

Treatment

Treatment of arthritis depends on the cause, which joints are affected, the severity, and how the condition affects your daily activities. Your age and occupation will also be taken into consideration when your doctor works with you to create a treatment plan.

Expectations (prognosis)

A few arthritis-related disorders can be completely cured with treatment. Most are chronic (long-term) conditions, however, and the goal of treatment is to control the pain and minimize joint damage. Chronic arthritis frequently goes in and out of remission.

Review

Mark James Borigini, MD, Rheumatologist in the Washington, DC Metro area. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/5/2010

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ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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