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Arthritis: Introduction

Arthritis is a general term for more than 100 diseases that cause inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints.

Common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and septic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is an ongoing, progressive disease that affects the joints as the cartilage of joints breaks down over time. Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints of the body with episodes of painful inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis also affects other organs of the body and can result in the destruction of joints, disability, and in severe cases, life threatening complications.

Septic arthritis is caused by the infection of a joint by microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi. Septic arthritis can occur when microorganisms enter a joint through a wound in the skin. Septic arthritis can also be caused by microorganisms that spread to a joint from another infection in the body, such as tuberculosis, cellulitis, or a boil.

Symptoms of arthritis vary greatly depending on the type of arthritis, a person's age, medical history and other factors. Typical symptoms of all forms of arthritis include the inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling of joints. Complications of all forms of arthritis can include disability. For details about additional important complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of arthritis.

Making a diagnosis of arthritis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. X-rays or MRI may be done to determine if there is joint or nerve damage.

Testing for rheumatoid arthritis includes a blood rheumatoid factor test. Other tests may complete blood test (CBC), C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate.

Testing for septic arthritis includes blood tests and an analysis of the "lubricating" fluid in the joints (synovial fluid) that checks for the presence of infectious microorganisms in the joint.

It is possible that a diagnosis of arthritis can be missed or delayed because some people may have no symptoms and because some forms of the disease progresses gradually. In addition, some symptoms may be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic arthritis, refer to misdiagnosis of arthritis.

Treatment for arthritis varies depending on the type of arthritis, severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms and minimize destruction of joints and other complications. For details on treatments, refer to treatment of arthritis. ...more »

Arthritis: Arthritis is a medical term meaning any type of joint inflammation but the word is commonly used to refer to age-related osteoarthritis, which is the most common type. However, there are other types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis (second-most common, affecting younger adults and juveniles), and various types of secondary arthritis that are caused by an underlying condition: reactive arthritis caused by an infection, psoriatic arthritis from psoriasis, gonococcal arthritis from gonorrhea, and others. Other possible conditions with arthritis-like symptoms include ankylosing spondylitis and gout. ...more »

Arthritis: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of arthritis vary between the different forms of arthritis. However, hallmark symptoms of all forms of arthritis include joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, and swelling.

In septic arthritis symptoms also include fever, chills.

In osteoarthritis, joint pain progresses in severity over time and can lead to difficulty moving, ...more symptoms »

Arthritis: Treatments

Treatment of arthritis varies depending on the type of arthritis and other factors.

Septic arthritis is often curable with antibiotics if it is caused by a bacterial infection. Treatment may also include surgically opening up the affected joint to drain the infected synovial fluid.

There is no cure for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid ...more treatments »

Arthritis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of arthritis may be delayed or missed because early symptoms may be mild and intermittent and develop slowly. In addition, some people do not experience symptoms in early stages of osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of arthritis can be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions, such as aging, excessive exercise, general malaise, influenza, or ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Arthritis

Treatments for Arthritis

  • Treatment for arthritis depends on the specific type of arthritis, the severity of the symptoms, and the patients' age, general health and other medical conditions. Treatment is aimed at symptom control and modification of disease progression. Treatments include:
    • Explanation - Education plays an important role in arthritis management
    • Rest - during bouts of active inflammation
    • Exercise - graduated exercise program recommended to maintain good joint function, especially in osteoarthritis
    • Heat - may provide relief in non-inflammatory arthritis such as osteoarthritis
  • more treatments...»

Wrongly Diagnosed with Arthritis?

Arthritis: Related Patient Stories

Arthritis: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Arthritis.

Alternative Treatments for Arthritis

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Arthritis may include:

Types of Arthritis

Curable Types of Arthritis

Possibly curable types of Arthritis include:

Rare Types of Arthritis:

Rare types of Arthritis include:

Arthritis: Complications

Review possible medical complications related to Arthritis:

Causes of Arthritis

More information about causes of Arthritis:

Disease Topics Related To Arthritis

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Arthritis:

Arthritis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Arthritis

Rare undiagnosed iron disorder causes various severe conditions: The rare "iron overload" disorder, hemochromatosis, can cause a variety of symptoms and result in various more »

Rare form of juvenile arthritis undiagnosed: The disease rheumatoid arthritis (i.e. juvenile arthritis) is fairly well known. But there is a rare form known as Still's disease that can remain more »

Leg cramps at night a classic sign: The symptom of having leg muscle cramps, particularly at night, is a classic sign of undiagnosed more »

Psoriatic arthritis often undiagnosed cause of joint conditions: Patients with the skin condition psoriasis can also have the related arthritis subtype called "psoriatic arthritis". This more »

Arthritis: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Latest Treatments for Arthritis

Arthritis: Animations

Research about Arthritis

Visit our research pages for current research about Arthritis treatments.

Clinical Trials for Arthritis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Arthritis include:

Statistics for Arthritis

Arthritis: Broader Related Topics

Arthritis Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Arthritis, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about Arthritis

Questions and Answers About Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: NIAMS (Excerpt)

Arthritis means "joint inflammation" and refers to a group of diseases that cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of motion in the joints. "Arthritis" is often used as a more general term to refer to the more than 100 rheumatic diseases that may affect the joints but can also cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in other supporting structures of the body such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Some rheumatic diseases can affect other parts of the body, including various internal organs. (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: NIAMS)

Do I have Arthritis: NIAMS (Excerpt)

Arthritis is an illness that can cause pain and swelling in your joints. Over time, the joint can become severely damaged. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Some kinds of arthritis can cause problems in other organs, such as your eyes, or in your chest. It can affect your skin, too. (Source: excerpt from Do I have Arthritis: NIAMS)

Definitions of Arthritis:

Pain in the joint. - (Source - Diseases Database)

Inflammation of a joint or joints - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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