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What is arthritis?

Arthritis means inflammation of joints. Arthritis is very common. There are many causes of arthritis. Children and adults of all ages can be affected by arthritis, although the most common type is osteoarthritis and that affects older people.

What are the causes of arthritis?

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are many different causes of arthritis.

The following list includes some of the common conditions that mainly affect joints. For further information, each condition has a separate leaflet.

Rheumatoid arthritis : Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints. Persistent inflammation over time can damage affected joints. The severity can vary from mild to severe. The earlier treatment is started, the less joint damage is likely to occur.

Osteoarthritis : Osteoarthritis (OA) causes pain and stiffness in joints. Symptoms may be helped by exercises, some physical devices and treatments, and losing weight if you are overweight.

Ankylosing spondylitis : Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis. It mainly affects the lower back. Other joints and other parts of the body are sometimes affected. Treatment includes regular exercise and anti-inflammatory medicines. The severity of ankylosing spondylitis varies from mild to severe. An eye complication called uveitis can be serious but can be treated successfully if treatment is given promptly.

Gout : Gout causes attacks of pain and swelling in one or more joints. An anti-inflammatory painkiller usually eases an attack quickly. Lifestyle factors may reduce the risk of having gout attacks. These include losing weight (if overweight), eating a healthy diet, and not drinking much alcohol or sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Calcium pyrophosphate deposition : Calcium pyrophosphate is a substance produced in the cartilages of the joints. It can become deposited as crystals on joint tissues. This is called calcium pyrophosphate deposition (CPPD). CPPD can cause a number of problems of which the most well known is pseudogout. This is almost identical to gout, causing attacks of pain and swelling in one or more joints. Some people get damage to the joint, causing a type of long-term arthritis. CPPD may cause no symptoms and is sometimes picked up on an X-ray done for an unrelated condition. Unlike gout, there is no special therapy for pseudogout.

Psoriatic arthritis : Psoriatic arthritis causes inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints in some people who have psoriasis (a skin condition). Other parts of the body may also be affected. For example, inflammation may also affect tendons and ligaments. The severity can vary from mild to severe. In some cases, affected joints become damaged which can cause disability.

Reactive arthritis : Reactive arthritis means that you develop inflammation in joints after you have had an infection in some other part of the body. Other symptoms usually develop in addition to the arthritis. Symptoms commonly last 3-6 months. In some cases the arthritis persists long-term. There is a rare 'triad' syndrome where arthritis, urethritis and conjunctivitis occur at the same time.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis : Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is an unusual condition in which joint inflammation occurs in children under the age of 16 years. It lasts for at least six weeks. Arthritis causes inflammation, pain and swelling of the affected joints. The severity can vary from mild to severe. The earlier the treatment is started, the less joint damage is likely to occur.

Arthritis symptoms

The symptoms of arthritis vary depending on the nature and severity of the underlying cause. The symptoms include:

Arthritis treatment

There are treatments available for all forms of arthritis. However, the treatment will depend on the cause of arthritis. Treatments may include medicines, physiotherapy and surgery. Some causes of arthritis only need treatment for a short time. Other causes of arthritis may need lifelong treatment. For osteoarthritis, if it affects the hip or the knee, surgery can be done to replace the entire joint.

Dr. Atul Patil


Consultant Orthopaedic

Spine & Joint Replacement Surgeon

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Aayush Hospital
Plot no 112, Sector 30, Behind Canara Bank, Owe, Kharghar-410210


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