What is it?
Arthritis is a disease characterised by inflammation and subsequent cartilage damage in one or more joints. This inflammation may be the body’s response to an injury (such as a fracture), an infection (either viral or bacterial), or gradual wear and tear on the joints. Arthritis is also common in the skin disease psoriasis as well as in autoimmune disorders, such as lupus rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, stiffness and redness that last more than six weeks.
There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis, with many different causes. Four of the most common types are:
- Osteoarthritis – associated with the aging process, joint injury and joint deterioration;
- Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disorder;
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – attacks younger people and affects joints and occasionally organs; and
- Gout – a metabolic disorder associated with excess uric acid.
Septic arthritis is a less common type but can cause serious joint damage and death from overwhelming infection.
For information on other types of arthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation.