Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.
In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis. It affects people of all ages, including children (see below).
The two most common types of arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting around 8 million people.
It most often develops inadults who are in their late 40s or older. It's also more common in women andpeople with a family history ofthe condition. However, it can occur at any age as a result of an injury or be associated with otherjoint-related conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness.
Once the cartilage lining starts to roughen and thin out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder. This can cause swelling and the formation of bony spurs, called osteophytes.
Severe loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing on bone, altering the shape of the joint and forcing the bones out of their normal position.
The most commonly affected jointsare those in the:
In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 400,000 people. It often starts when a person is between 40 and 50 years old. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men.
Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are two different conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body's immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling.
The outer covering (synovium) of the joint is the first place affected. This can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and a change in the joint's shape. Thismay cause thebone and cartilage to break down.
People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body.
Thesymptoms of arthritis you experience will vary depending on the type you have.
This is why it's important to have an accurate diagnosis if you have:
Arthritis is often associated with older people, butit can alsoaffect children. In the UK, about 15,000 children and young people are affected by arthritis.
Most types of childhood arthritis are known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA causes pain andinflammation in one or more joints for at least six weeks.
Although the exact cause of JIA isunknown, the symptoms often improve as a child gets older, meaning they can lead a normal life.
The main types of JIA are discussed below. Arthritis Research UK has more information about the different types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis .
Oligo-articular JIA is the most common type of JIA. It affects fewer than five joints in the bodymost commonly in the knees, ankles and wrists.
Oligo-articular JIA has good recovery rates and long-term effects are rare. However, there's a risk that childrenwith the condition may develop eye problems, so regular eyetests with an ophthalmologist (eye care specialist) are recommended.
Polyarticular JIA, or polyarthritis, affects five or more joints. It can develop at any age during childhood.
The symptoms of polyarticular JIA are similar to the symptoms of adult rheumatoid arthritis . The condition is often accompanied by a rash and a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above.
Systemic onset JIA begins with symptoms such as a fever, rash, lethargy (a lack of energy) and enlarged glands. Later on, joints canbecome swollen and inflamed.
Like polyarticular JIA, systemic onset JIA can affect children of any age.
Enthesitis-related arthritis is a type of juvenile arthritis that affects older boys or teenagers. It can cause pain in the soles of the feet and around the knee and hip joints, where the ligaments attach to the bone.
There's no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can help slow down the condition.
For osteoarthritis, medications are often prescribed, including:
In severe cases, the following surgical procedures may be recommended:
Read moreabout how osteoarthritis is treated .
Treatment forrheumatoid arthritis aimsto slow down the condition's progress and minimise joint inflammation or swelling. This isto try and prevent damage to the joints. Recommended treatments include:
Read moreabout how rheumatoid arthritisis treated .
You can also use the NHS post code search to find arthritis services in your area .
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. The two most common types of arthritis are: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Living with arthritis isn't easy and carrying out simple, everyday tasks can often be painful and difficult.
Paul Casimir has been living with arthritis for half his life, but it didn't make him stop him doing the things he enjoys. One day, he decided to see how he would get on without medication. He has never looked back.
Jo has been living with osteoarthritis for 15 years. When she felt her independence slipping away, she knew she had to take stock of her life.
When we think of arthritis, we normally think of old age. But the disease can strike young people too. Kate Llewelyn, 34, first noticed her symptoms when she was just 13.