Arthritis is often referred to and thought of as a single condition. But it is actually an umbrella term for more than 100 different conditions which affect the musculoskeletal system and joints where two or more bones meet.
The term arthritis means inflammation of a joint but it is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage.
Cartilage, tissue that covers the ends of bones, is a padding that absorbs stress and allows them to move smoothly and easily against each other. The proportion of cartilage damage and synovial inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis.
Usually when pain associated with arthritis first presents it is due to inflammation. In the later stages, when the cartilage is worn away, most of the pain comes from the mechanical friction of raw bones rubbing against each other.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. The symptoms of inflammation are redness, swelling, heat and pain.
Arthritis related symptoms can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities which can interfere with basic daily tasks.
Unfortunately arthritis is not yet curable. But there are a number of measures which can lesson the impact of the condition and its interference with daily life.
While there are about 100 forms of arthritis, the three most significant; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout, account for more than 95% of cases in Australia.??
Other common types of arthritis include: