Arthritis is a disease that involves the inflammation of various joints throughout the body. This can result in individuals possibly experiencing a decrease in mobility as well as symptoms that involve pain, stiffness, and swelling. As the individual gets older, the symptoms worsen. Arthritis can occur in many stages, ranging from mild to moderate to severe cases. Individuals that experience severe arthritis are not able to physically maneuver well enough. An example of a difficulty that is caused by severe arthritis includes walking up the stairs.
Arthritis can come in many forms but the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis involves the cartilage wearing away, causing the bones to touch and rub each other, resulting in pain. The cartilage is the small tissue that is located in between the joints of the bones that serves as a cushion for the bones to rub against, thus preventing bone-to-bone contact. Once that tissue is gone, there is nothing to prevent the joints of the bones from scratching against each other, resulting in chronic pain and possibly stiffness and swelling as well. For osteoarthritis, family genetics and age play a role. Weight is also an important factor as the heavier the person is, the greater the pressure is exerted on the joints, causing them to weaken.
Rheumatoid arthritis involves the body’s immune system attacking the joints, resulting in swelling and possible damage to the joints. Whereas osteoarthritis involves the wear-and-tear of the bones, rheumatoid arthritis is classified more as an autoimmune condition. According to research, the risk for rheumatoid arthritis can be higher if there is a family history of it. Also environmental factors, such as weather conditions and smoking can trigger rheumatoid arthritis.
Other types of arthritis that are less common are infectious arthritis (involves bacteria or fungus creating inflammation in the joints) and metabolic arthritis (where the the body produces unusual amounts of uric acid that accumulates within the joints as crystal needle-like structures), causing severe joint pain.