Confusions might arise when people talk about arthritis without proper knowledge. It is because not many people know that arthritis is not a single disease. It actually refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions, causing pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints. Arthritis is often associated with inflammation of one or more joints, but actually it can also cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. Some forms of arthritis are classified as systemic because they can affect the whole body. It may affect the muscles, bones, and other internal organs. The joints most often affected are: knees, hands, hips, and spine.
There are many forms of arthritis, ranging from those related to the damage of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis). Arthritis affects people at any age (including children) and become a major cause of physical disability in the United States.
The disease affects nearly 46 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States. The damage caused by arthritis can lead to joint weakness, instability and visible deformities that may decrease the patient’s ability to do basic daily tasks.
The causes of arthritis may vary depending on its type, such as:
- Injury (causing osteoarthritis)
- Metabolic abnormalities (causing gout and pseudogout)
- Infections by bacteria, virus, or other organism (causing infectious arthritis)
- Misdirected immune system with autoimmunity (causing rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythemathosus)
- Hereditary factors