What is arthritis and what are its warning signs?

Arthritis is a condition which causes joint pain and inflammation. It often has a slow onset and is accompanied by infrequent signs and symptoms. The condition might cause joint pain or it could initially produce health issues which seem unrelated, such as a rash or fatigue.

Arthritis is a joint disease. The word literally means joint inflammation, but it is used to describe over 100 conditions affecting the joints and their adjacent tissues.

A joint refers to the place where two bones are connected. Cartilage is a soft, rubbery tissue which can be found between two connecting bones. Its purpose is to protect bones and facilitate their movement. When the cartilage is affected by various factors, inflammation and swelling occur. The swollen tissue of a joint can lead to serious damage over time.

The Most Common Forms of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis appears when cartilage is damaged by wear and tear which naturally happen over the years. The smooth cartilage becomes rough and if it disappears completely, bones start rubbing against each other, causing pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the cartilage, causing inflammation, pain and joint degeneration. It can affect multiple organs.

Septic arthritis is caused by a bacteria or virus in the joint. Its main symptoms are joint inflammation and fever. Some of the causes of septic arthritis are salmonella, shigella, chlamydia, gonorrhea and hepatitis C.

Psoriatic arthritis may occur when one suffers from skin psoriasis. The condition may affect the joints as well over time and thus, psoriatic arthritis develops.

Gout occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate in the joint, causing inflammation, swelling, redness and pain.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis which affects the spine, producing inflammation and fusion between the vertebrae.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis

The main symptom of an arthritic condition is pain due to joint inflammation and damage.

Other symptoms associated with arthritis include:

  • swelling of the joints
  • joint stiffness
  • muscle aches or strain
  • tenderness
  • difficulty or inability to move
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • poor quality of sleep
  • depression

These symptoms might be experienced temporarily or permanently and can have variations intensity, ranging from mild to severe.

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/

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