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What is arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of a joint. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 50 million people in the U.S. have some form of arthritis or chronic joint symptoms. Arthritis is usually chronic, which means that it rarely changes, or it progresses slowly. Specific causes for most forms of arthritis are not yet known.
The most common types of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, primarily affects weight-bearing joints such as the knee, hip and spine. It occurs in most people as they age, but may also occur in young people as a result of injury or overuse. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the ends of bones gradually wears away. The joint inflammation causes pain and swelling and continued use of the joint produces pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-lasting, inflammatory disease that primarily affects the hands and feet, although all joints may be involved. In rheumatoid arthritis, the joint lining swells, invading surrounding tissues and producing chemical substances that attack and destroy the joint surface. Swelling, pain and stiffness are usually present even when the joint is not used. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages. However, more than 70 percent of people with this disease are over 30 years of age.
Fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body.
What are the symptoms?
- Pain and stiffness in the joints
- Swelling in one or more joints
- Continuing or recurring pain or tenderness in a joint
- Difficulty using or moving a joint in a normal manner
- Warmth and redness in a joint