1. What is Arthritis

A joint is a region of the body where two bones congregate such as elbow or knee. It functions to move the body parts joined by its bones. The term arthritis broadly encompasses around 200 rheumatic conditions that affect joints, tissues surrounding the joint and other connective tissue.

“Arthritis” refers to joint inflammation. This joint disorder is accompanied by joint pain, referred to as arthralgia. In cases, when four or more joints are involved, the arthritis is referred to as polyarthritis

Arthritis affects more than 180 million people in India, the prevalence higher than many well-known diseases such as diabetes, AIDS, and cancer. It is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected.

The most widespread form of arthritis is osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Additional common rheumatic conditions related to arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and reactive arthritis.

A few forms of arthritis, such as the rheumatoid (RA) and lupus (SLE) can involve the immune system, affecting multiple organs and causing widespread symptoms.

2. What causes Arthritis

The precise cause of arthritis is unknown. Although a number of risk factors are known to be related to various arthritic conditions. A risk factor is a variable associated with an increased risk of disease or infection. Each form of arthritis possesses its particular risk factors.

Arthritis Risk factors
• Genetic factors (Specific genes are linked with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ankylosing spondylitis)
• Sex (Most arthritic conditions, 60% of them occur in the women. Ankylosing spondylitis and gout are more common in the men)
• Obesity/overweight (Excess weight can account both to the initiation and progression of hip and knee osteoarthritis)
• Physical inactivity is correlated to severity and progression of the varying type of arthritis)
• Joint injury (Accidents, sports activities)
• Infections (Epstein-Barr virus, Staphylococcus aureus, Neisseria gonorrhea, Parvovirus B19, hepatitis, Rubella virus)
• Immune system dysfunction
3. When to visit a doctor
Arthritis causes varying symptoms and impairs an individual ability to perform daily activities.
General Arthritic signs and symptoms
• Joint pain, tenderness, stiffness
• Restricted movement of the joints
• Muscle wasting
• Warm, red skin over the joint
Apart from the commonly observed signs and symptoms, characteristic signs related to the specific arthritic types are as follows.
• Pain and stiffness from the neck down to the lower back (ankylosing spondylitis)
• The stiffness of the joints, especially in the morning (Inflammatory arthritis)
• Warmth, redness, swelling, creaking of the affected joint, changes in the shape of the affected joint (osteoarthritis)
• Sausage-like swelling of the fingers, toes, skin rashes, nail changes, eye problems, tenderness in the fingers (Psoriatic arthritis)
• Though it can affect any joint, large joint of the big toe is commonly affected (gout)
• Widespread muscle pain and tenderness (Fibromyalgia)
• Pain, swelling, redness of the joint of knees, ankle, and feet, discomfort during urination, eye inflammation (Reactive arthritis)
• Tender, warm, swollen, stiff joints that are usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity (Rheumatoid arthritis)
• Persistent fever, fatigue, irritability in cases of systemic involvement
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