Arthritis Overview

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the body’s joints that causes pain and stiffness. Although it is mainly an adult disease, some forms affect children. There are many types of arthritis. They include osteoarthritis, inflammatory, post-traumatic, and septic (infectious) arthritis. While each of these conditions has different causes, the symptoms and treatment are often the same.

Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in weight-bearing joints such as the knee, hip, and spine. It is a joint disease. A joint exists where the ends of two or more bones meet. The knee joint, for example, is formed between the bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula) and the thighbone (femur). The hip joint is located where the top of the thighbone (femoral head) meets the cup portion of the pelvis (acetabulum).

Cartilage. A smooth layer of cartilage covers the ends of bones in a joint. Cartilage cushions the bone and allows the joint to move easily without the friction that would occur with bone-on-bone contact.

Synovium-  A joint is enclosed by a fibrous capsule that is lined with a tissue called the synovium, which produces a fluid that also helps to reduce friction and wear in a joint.

Muscles, tendons and ligaments- Ligaments connect the bones and keep the joint stable. Muscles and tendons power the joint and enable it to move.


It may be caused by wear and tear on the articular cartilage through the natural aging process (osteoarthritis), or it may develop following an injury (post-traumatic arthritis).

Regardless of whether it is caused by injury, normal wear and tear, or systemic disease, the affected joint becomes inflamed, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. Inflammation is one of the body’s normal reactions to injury or disease. In arthritic joints, however, inflammation may cause long-lasting or permanent disability when it destroys the joint’s cartilage.

There are 4 major categories of arthritis:

·        Osteoarthritis

·        Inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus arthritis

·        Post-traumatic arthritis

·        Septic (infectious) arthritis

Arthritis Overview Picture


The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Also known as “wear and tear” , osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of bones gradually wears away.

Osteoarthritis results from overuse, trauma, or the natural degeneration of cartilage that occurs with aging.  There is a strong genetic component to osteoarthritis, but the genetics are complex and poorly understood. There is no single known osteoarthritis gene; the condition is likely due to a combination of many genes. Scientists call this type of genetics “multifactorial.”

Osteoarthritis is often more painful in joints that bear weight, such as the knee, hip, and spine. However, joints that are used extensively in work or sports, or joints that have been damaged by injury may also show signs of osteoarthritis.

In many cases, bone growths called spurs develop at the edges of osteoarthritic joints. The bone can become harder (sclerosis). The joint becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Continued use of the joint is painful.


Osteoarthritis often results in bone rubbing on bone. Bone spurs are a common feature of this form of arthritis.

Inflammatory Arthritis

As the name implies, inflammatory arthritis results from an excessive inflammatory response inside a joint.  It often is the result of an overactive immune system (autoimmune) but can also be caused by certain diseases (such as Lyme disease) or by the buildup of crystals in the joint (such as gout or psudogout). The most common cause of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that afects many parts of the body, but mainly the joints. The body’s immune system, which normally protects the body, begins to produce substances that attack the body. In rheumatoid arthritis the joint lining swells, invading surrounding tissues. Chemical substances are produced that attack and destroy the joint surface.

Rheumatoid-arthritis may affect both large and small joints in the body and also the spine. Swelling, pain, and stiffness usually develop, even when the joint is not used. In some circumstances, juvenile arthritis may cause similar symptoms in children.

Lupus Arthritis

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects the blood and multiple organs, including the kidneys, skin, and heart. Lupus arthritis can be systemic and cause chronic pain in multiple join

Post-traumatic Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis results from an injury to the joint due to trauma. If a broken bone or fracture extends into a joint it will damage the smooth cartilage that covers the joint’s surface. The surface becomes uneven and causes friction as the joint moves. Over time, the joint breaks down and becomes arthritic.

Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis is an infection of the joint. Bacteria most often reach the joint through the bloodstream from an infection in another part of the body, such as the urinary tract. Infected joints are typically warm, red, and acutely tender. They are often swollen due to pus in the joint. An infected joint often needs surgical drainage in addition to antibiotic treatment.

Author: All Cures Team


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