Arthritis means an inflammation of the joints, or the parts of your skeletal system where the bones link together. It doesn’t refer to a specific disease, but it’s usually a symptom of another condition. It is most commonly used to refer to joint pain, joint inflammation, or a disease in a person’s joints.
Since it affects the joints, arthritis can affect your hands, feet, knees, elbows, legs, hips, and so on. Any part of your body that has a joint can possibly develop arthritis. But usually arthritis manifests in a person’s hands, wrists, elbows, and knees.
Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid arthritis
There are two general types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While both of them cause damage to a person’s joints, they do so in different ways.
Osteoarthritis results from the wear and tear of the cartilage inside your joints. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber, and cushions your bones as well as prevents them from grinding against each other. Over time, the cartilage can wear out, and the bones in your joints to start grinding against each other, which can cause the symptoms of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand also causes joint damage, but it results from your own immune system attacking the lining of your joints called the synovial membrane. Over time, the lining can wear out, and the cartilage gets destroyed along with it.
How common is arthritis?
It is not easy to find out just how many people in the world suffer from arthritis. This is because a large number of people are not able to seek arthritis treatment, or do not have access to it, so they cannot be counted. However, conservative estimates say that one out of every three people aged 18 to 64 have some form of arthritis.