Arthritis is a general term for more than 100 diseases. The most common types of arthritis cause pain, stiffness and sometimes reduced mobility in a joint. Some types of arthritis can also affect other parts of your body such as your skin or internal organs.
Osteoarthritis, which is sometimes called degenerative joint disease, most often affects the fingers, knees, hips and spine. It occurs when a joint’s protective cartilage wears away, allowing the joint bones to rub against each other.
Osteoarthritis is usually age-related, as years of wear and tear on joints begins to fray and break down the cartilage. However, osteoarthritis can also occur following a joint injury, sometimes years after the injury. Excess weight can also stress joints. Common signs of osteoarthritis are joint pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness and noises when the joint is flexed.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease (meaning your body’s disease-fighting system mistakenly causes joint linings to swell) that often affects hands and feet but can also occur in other joints, eyes, skin and internal organs. This inflammation spreads to other tissues and can eventually damage cartilage and bone.
In addition to joint pain and swelling, people with rheumatoid arthritis may also have heat and redness around the joint and may feel sick, tired and feverish.
Most forms of arthritis cannot be cured; however, a variety of therapies are available to manage symptoms, improve function, and help you enjoy life again.