Arthritis (from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation; plural: arthritides) is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints.
There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and related autoimmune diseases. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection.
The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is joint pain. Pain is often a constant and may be localized to the joint affected. The pain from arthritis is due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, painful joints and fatigue.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, the common symptoms for all arthritis disorders include varied levels of pain, swelling, joint stiffness, and sometimes a constant ache around the joint(s). Arthritic disorders like lupus and rheumatoid can also affect other organs in the body with a variety of symptoms.
Inability to use the hand or walk
Malaise and a feeling of tiredness
Muscle aches and pains
Difficulty moving the joint
It is common in advanced arthritis for significant secondary changes to occur. For example, in someone who has limited their physical activity:
Loss of flexibility
Decreased aerobic fitness
These changes can also impact on life and social roles, such as community involvement.
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the USA. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. Absenteeism and frequent visits to the physician are common in individuals who have arthritis. Arthritis makes it very difficult for individuals to be physically active and many become home bound.
It is estimated that the total cost of arthritis cases is close to $100 billion of which nearly 50% accounts from lost earnings. Each year, arthritis results in nearly 1 million hospitalizations and close to 45 million outpatient visits to health care centers.
Arthritis can make it very difficult for the individual to remain physically active, contributing to an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol or vulnerability to heart disease. Individuals with arthritis are also at increased risk of depression, which may be related to fear of worsening symptoms.Wikipedia - Arthritis
Wikipedia's entry on arthritis.eMedicineHealth
Several articles on varying types of arthritis.Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic's Osteoarthritis Center.Arthritis Central
Designed to provide people suffering with arthritis and rheumatic disorders with tools and information that will help them live a full and enjoyable life.Intelihealth
The basics of arthritis, and how to take action.