About Arthritis

You've probably heard the word "arthritis" before. And now, you may be wondering if it could be affecting you. By definition, arthritis means "joint inflammation," and it's used to describe more than 100 different diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround joints, and other connective tissue.

Arthritis can affect people differently. It's common in adults 65 and older, but it can affect people of all ages, races, and ethnic groups. In fact, about 1 out of every 5 adults in the United States — around 50 million people — has reported being diagnosed by their doctor with some form of arthritis.

Two of the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have different causes, risk factors, and effects on the body:

  • Osteoarthritis pain, stiffness, or inflammation most frequently appears in the hips, knees, and hands.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the hands and wrists but can also affect areas of the body other than the joints.

Even though they have these differences, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis often share common symptoms:

  • Joint pain
  • Stiffness
  • Inflammation or swelling

The importance of talking to your doctor.

Sometimes arthritis symptoms make it harder to do certain activities. By talking to your doctor about your symptoms, he or she may help you find other ways to continue doing some of those activities.

Your doctor can also help evaluate your current treatment and may recommend other, more effective ways to help you manage your arthritis. The sooner you take action and talk to your doctor, the sooner you can start managing your arthritis symptoms more effectively.