Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments – Medical News Today

Posted: August 29, 2015 at 2:41 am

Although the word "arthritis" means joint inflammation, the term is used to describe around 200 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint, and other connective tissue.5

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Other common rheumatic conditions include gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.4

You will also see introductions at the end of some sections to any recent developments that have been covered by MNT's news stories. Also look out for links to information about related conditions.

Fast facts on arthritis

Here are some key points about arthritis. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.

Typically, pain, aching, stiffness and swelling in and around one or more joints characterize rheumatic conditions. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body.6

Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect multiple organs and cause widespread symptoms.

Arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but people of all ages (including children) can be affected.

There are 52.5 million adults in the US, equating to 22.7% of the population, reported to have a form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia.1

With people living longer in the US, the prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis is expected to increase. It has been estimated that by the year 2030, 67 million, 25% of the projected total adult population aged 18 years and older, will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

Arthritis has a significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence in women (23.9%) than men (18.6%), with the prevalence increasing with age and higher among women than men in every age group.

An estimated 294,000 children under the age of 18 have some form of arthritis or rheumatic condition; this represents approximately 1 in every 250 children in the US.4

Arthritis has a significant impact on individuals, for example:1

Impairment in the ability of people with arthritis to perform essential daily tasks may interfere with their work, their purpose in their community, or the care they can provide for their family.

Around 18% of total disabilities are caused by arthritis or rheumatism, making it the most common cause of disability in the US.

Arthritis has a strong association with major depression, with a risk of 18.1%. This could be due to its role in creating functional limitation. Around 6.6% of adults with arthritis report severe psychological distress.

Prevalence of arthritis increases with body mass index (BMI). Prevalence increases from 16.3% among underweight and normal adults to 20.3% of overweight adults and 28.9% of obese adults.

Reports among adults by BMI show the following groups express activity limitations:

Physical activity and exercise have been shown to benefit people with arthritis by improving pain, function and mental health. However, around 24% of adults with arthritis report being physically inactive compared with 18.6% of adults without arthritis.

By partaking in low levels of exercise, individuals with arthritis face placing themselves at risk of conditions associated with lack of activity such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and functional limitations.

Certain factors have been shown to be associated with a greater risk of arthritis. Some of these risk factors are modifiable while others are not.

Non-modifiable risk factors:

Modifiable risk factors:

Cost attributable to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions (AORC) in the US in 2003 was approximately:2

The CDC reports that 47% of US adults with arthritis also have at least one comorbid condition (the presence of more than one disease or condition in the same person at the same time).3

Among people with arthritis the most common comorbidities are:

Risk factors for other chronic conditions are common among US adults with arthritis, such as:

More than half (53%) of US adult with arthritis report high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with heart disease - the most common comorbidity among adults with arthritis.

Approximately 1 in 5 (19%) of US adults with arthritis are smokers. Smoking is associated with chronic respiratory conditions - the second most common comorbidity among adults with arthritis.

In 2004, there were an estimated:4

In 2004, joint replacements for arthritis included:4

Between the years of 1979-1998, the AORC deaths increased from 5,537 to 9,367.4 The approximate death rate from AORC in 1979 was 2.46 per 100,000 population and 3.48 per 100,000 population in 1998. Both rates age-standardized to the year 2000 population were 2.75 and 3.51, respectively.

Using 10 categories of AORC, just three categories accounted for almost 80% of deaths:9

There is no one cause for arthritis; the cause depends on the type or form of arthritis. Potential causes for arthritis may include:

For many arthritis conditions, there is a strong element of chance involved as to what is the main cause. However, for most types of arthritis, the cause is a combination of many factors working together.

A person may naturally be more susceptible to certain conditions due to genetic makeup. If more susceptible, external factors such as previous injury, infection, smoking and physically demanding occupations could play a part.

There are some foods that appear to exacerbate arthritis, although diet or food sensitivity or intolerance is unlikely to cause arthritis.

Cartilage is a flexible, connective tissue in joints that absorb the pressure and shock created from movement like running and walking. It also protects the joints and allows for smooth movement.34

Some types of arthritis are caused by a reduction in the normal amount of cartilage tissue through wear and tear throughout life, such as osteoarthritis.

RA, on the other hand, occurs when the body's immune system attacks the tissues of the body.

On the next two pages we look at the types of arthritis, the signs and symptoms and the possible treatment options for arthritis.

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Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments - Medical News Today

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