Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis causes cartilage — the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint — to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.

What is Arthritis?

    Arthritis is a disease that affects your joints (areas where your bones meet and move). Arthritis usually involves inflammation or degeneration (breakdown) of your joints. These changes can cause pain when you use the joint.

Arthritis is most common in the following areas of the body:





Lower back.


     Arthritis is a common disorder that affects your joints. It can cause pain and inflammation, making it difficult to move or stay active. There are many types of arthritis. Each form causes different symptoms and may need different treatments. While arthritis usually affects older adults, it can develop in men, women and children of any age.

What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

     Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Joint inflammation from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, pain, and warmth.

Stiffness of the joint can lead to poor function.

Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present with or without pain.

When large joints are involved, such as the knee, there can be loss of cartilage with limitation of motion from the joint damage.

When arthritis affects the small joints in the fingers, there can be bone growth and loss of hand grip and grip strength of the hand associated with stiffness.

Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can lead to difficulty walking from poor joint function and arthritis pain.

Many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include.

What causes Arthritis?

     The two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — damage joints in different ways.


The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to a joint’s cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on the bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.

Osteoarthritis also causes changes in the bones and deterioration of the connective tissues that attach muscle to bone and hold the joint together. If the cartilage in a joint is severely damaged, the joint lining may become inflamed and swollen.

Rheumatoid arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining (synovial membrane) becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.

Treatment for Arthritis :

    The main goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing and prevent additional damage to the joints. You’ll learn what works best for you in terms of managing pain.

In general, treatment for arthritis involvesTrusted Source a combination of:

medications and supplements

physical therapy

occupational therapy

nutrient-rich diet

regular exercise

weight loss, if needed

heat and cold compresses

mobility assistance devices, such as canes or walkers

Improving your joint function is also important. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of treatment methods to achieve the best results.


A number of different types of medication treat arthritis:

Analgesics, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), are effective for pain management but do not help decrease inflammation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil) and salicylates, help manage pain and inflammation. Salicylates can thin the blood, so they should not be used with additional blood-thinning medications.

Menthol or capsaicin creams. These creams block the transmission of pain signals from your joints.

Steroids, like prednisone, help reduce inflammation but should be used cautiously and for brief periods of time.

Immunosuppressants and biologics. Immunosuppressants and biologics are prescribed for moderate to severe inflammatory arthritis like RA.

If you have RA, your doctor may recommend corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which suppress your immune system.

DMARDs and biologics are prescribed earlier in the course of RA. Methotrexate is now a first-line drug for treatment.

There are also many medications to treat OA available over the counter or by prescription.


While clinical evidence and safety data from trusted sources are lacking for many herbs and supplements marketed for arthritis, there are a few supplements that may be beneficial. For example, avocado and soybean unsaponifiable (ASU) may help with OA symptoms. Fish oil and turmeric supplements may help reduce inflammation in RA.

However, you should talk with your doctor before taking any supplements for arthritis to make sure they are safe for you and will not interact with any medications you’re currently taking.


Surgery to replace your joint with an artificial one may be an option. This form of surgery is most commonly performed to replace hips and knees.

If your arthritis is most severe in your fingers or wrists, your doctor may perform the joint fusion. In this procedure, the ends of your bones are fused, eliminating the joint and therefore eliminating the site of inflammation.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy involving exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint is a core component of arthritis treatment.

Outside of your appointments, your physical therapist will likely recommend a plan of care that includes daily movement along with exercises you can complete on your own at home. Collectively, these can help build strength, flexibility, and balance to improve mobility while also preventing falls.

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