Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints. Joints are areas where the bones connect and move. Arthritis is characterized by swelling and tenderness in one or more joints. When these joints are used, it may produce pain.

Arthritis is a group of disorders that affect the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, each with its own set of symptoms, causes, and treatments. The most common types of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis: This causes the wear-and-tear damage of cartilage, which is the firm, slippery substance that protects the ends of bones where they form a joint. It happens due to repeated stress. It’s the most common type of arthritis.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: This typically affects the spine, particularly the lower back. It causes inflammation of the sacroiliac joints, which are positioned between the base of the spine and the pelvis.
  • Juvenile arthritis: This usually affect children aged 16 and under. It occurs when the immune system assaults the tissue surrounding the joints.
  • Gout: A medical condition that results in the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints, causing them to become stiff and painful.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: This is an inflammatory disease that causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in the morning. It is linked to psoriasis or a family history of psoriasis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a condition in which the immune system attacks the joints, starting with the joint lining or the synovial membranes.

The specific treatment plan for arthritis depends on the type of arthritis, as each type may have different underlying causes and symptoms. The primary goals of arthritis treatment are to alleviate pain and stiffness, preserve joint function, and improve mobility.


The symptoms of various forms of arthritis vary. They might range from mild to severe for some. Joint pain may come and go, or it may be continuous. Typical symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Limited range of motion


Different types of arthritis are caused by different types of joint condition. Gout, for example, is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body. However, the actual cause of some kinds of arthritis remains uncertain. In osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, two of the most common type of arthritis, joint damage also varies.

  • Osteoarthritis: The most prevalent type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, commonly known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). It is caused by wear and tear on a joint’s cartilage — the hard, smooth coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. The wear and tear can develop over time can be accelerated by a joint injury or infection.

Changes in osteoarthritis often occur gradually over several years, with rare exceptions. Inflammation and damage to the joint produce bony changes, deterioration of tendons and ligaments, and cartilage disintegration, leading in discomfort, swelling, and joint deformity.

However, primary osteoarthritis is a heterogeneous illness, which means it has multiple causes and is not just “wear and tear” arthritis. Some of the factors that contribute to osteoarthritis are modifiable, while others are non-modifiable such as born with it or permanent.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis has no definite cause. It is thought to be caused by a mix of genetics, hormones, and environmental factors.

Usually, the immune system defends the body against disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system of the body targets the lining of the joint capsule, a thick membrane that encloses all joint elements. This lining (synovial membrane) swells and becomes inflamed. Over time, this disease can lead to the deterioration of cartilage and bone tissues in the affected joint.

Risk factors

Several factors may contribute to one’s risk of developing arthritis, such as:

  • Family history: Having an immediate family member, parents or siblings with arthritis increases one’s risk of getting the illness too. There are several types of arthritis that are hereditary.
  • Age: The likelihood of developing various forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, increases as an individual ages.
  • Sex: Generally, women are more likely than men to suffer from most kinds of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is more prevalent in women, while gout is more common in men.
  • Joint damage: Individuals who have injured a joint are more susceptible to getting arthritis in that joint later in life. The damage may be acquired while playing sports.
  • Obesity: Too much weight puts additional strain on the joints, which can lead to arthritis. Obese people are at a higher risk of acquiring arthritis.