What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term used to categorize over 100 different conditions and diseases. What these 100+ diseases and conditions all have in common is a problem with a joint inside the body. The human body has joints in the spine, shoulders, knees, hips, elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles and toes. Arthritis pain and inflammation can affect any of these joints at any time during life, although these symptoms typically begin to appear after age 40.

A joint is the area where two bones come together. In order to move freely, the ends of the bones are covered with a substance called cartilage. Surrounding each joint is something called a synovium. The synovium also produces a lubricant that is primarily responsible for limiting joint wear and tear. It accomplishes this by reducing friction. Ligaments, tendons, and muscles give bones power and help the two bones stay together.

Arthritis strikes as a result of damage within the joint. The damage is typically the result of age, as over time the cartilage simply begins to break down. However, arthritis can also result from an injury or other health condition. When a joint becomes damaged or diseased, inflammation in the form of swelling, pain and stiffness can result.

In addition to the symptoms of pain, stiffness and swelling, an affected joint may not be able to move freely. Other symptoms can include flu-like symptoms, a fever, the appearance of nodules, and fatigue.

If you have painful joints and the pain does not seem to be getting any better after a few weeks, you may be experiencing symptoms of arthritis. Schedule a visit to your doctor. Proper diagnosis can be made after completing a physical exam, discussing your medical history, taking x-rays and ordering lab work.

If you do have arthritis, unfortunately there is no cure. There are however, a number of treatment options that can be prescribed. Hot/cold compresses, moderate exercise, and pain relievers are some options as is surgery. The doctor can prescribe the best treatment for your type of arthritis.

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