What is arthritis?
Rheumatic conditions are typically characterized by pain, aching, stiffness and swelling in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body.
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.
What causes arthritis?
There is no single cause of all types of arthritis; the cause or causes in any given case vary according to the type or form of arthritis. Potential causes for arthritis may include:
Potential causes for arthritis may include:
- Injury – leading to degenerative arthritis
- Abnormal metabolism – leading to gout and pseudogout
- Inheritance – such as in osteoarthritis
- Infections – such as in the arthritis of Lyme disease
- Immune system dysfunction – such as in RA and SLE.
Most types of arthritis are caused by a combination of many factors working together, although some arthritis conditions have no obvious cause and appear to be unpredictable in their emergence.
Some people may be more susceptible to certain arthritic conditions due to their genetic makeup. Additional factors, such as previous injury, infection, smoking and physically demanding occupations, can interact with a person’s genes to further increase the risk of arthritis.