The term arthritis (from the Greek arthros, a joint, and it is, inflammation) is a generally used description for joint disease, of which there are about 200 different types.

A more appropriate name for what many people suffer would be arthrosis, in which the joint is not inflamed and may not itself be painful. This problem is also commonly called “wear and tear” and can happen to anyone over the age of about 30. Pain comes not just from the joints but more often from the tight and tender muscles associated with the worn joints, which no longer function with optimal movement.

Osteoarthritis develops with age, often where there have been old injuries or in joints that have been overused. In osteoarthritis the cartilage covering the surface of the joint breaks down and the underlying bone becomes the thickened and distorted, making movement difficult and painful. The joints most commonly involved are the hips, knees, and spine. Being overweight can make the condition worse as added strain is put on the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of immune system which occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed and swollen. There are rarer forms which come from virus or bacterial infections. rheumatoid arthritis, besides affecting the joints, can also involve the skin, lymph nodes, heart, lungs, blood and nervous systems. Joint pains are combined with a low-grade fever. It affects people of all ages, although three times as many women as men get it. It is still not clear why rheumatoid arthritis develops. Blood tests show a special antibody which acts against the normal antibodies in the blood. The pain and swelling happen because the body’s white blood cells respond to this intruder by attacking the joints.

Rheumatism is a general term for muscular aches and pains that may be the forerunners of rheumatoid arthritis, or such symptoms could be due to a virus infection.

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