Arthritis is a term often used to mean any disorder that affects joints. Symptoms generally include joint pain and stiffness. Other symptoms may include redness, warmth, swelling, and decreased range of motion of the affected joints. In some types of arthritis, other organs are also affected. Onset can be gradual or sudden.
There are over 100 types of arthritis. The most common forms are osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually occurs with age and affects the fingers, knees, and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that often affects the hands and feet. Other types include gout, lupus, fibromyalgia, and septic arthritis. They are all types of rheumatic disease.
Treatment may include resting the joint and alternating between applying ice and heat. Weight loss and exercise may also be useful. Recommended medications may depend on the form of arthritis. These may include pain medications such as ibuprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen). In some circumstances, a joint replacement may be useful.
Osteoarthritis affects more than 3.8% of people, while rheumatoid arthritis affects about 0.24% of people. Gout affects about 1–2% of the Western population at some point in their lives. In Australia about 15% of people are affected, while in the United States more than 20% have a type of arthritis. Overall the disease becomes more common with age. Arthritis is a common reason that people miss work and can result in a decreased quality of life. The term is derived from arthr- (meaning joint) and -itis (meaning inflammation).
Gout is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint, causing inflammation. There is also an uncommon form of gouty arthritis caused by the formation of rhomboid crystals of calcium pyrophosphate known as pseudogout. In the early stages, the gouty arthritis usually occurs in one joint, but with time, it can occur in many joints and be quite crippling. The joints in gout can often become swollen and lose function. Gouty arthritis can become particularly painful and potentially debilitating when gout cannot successfully be treated. When uric acid levels and gout symptoms cannot be controlled with standard gout medicines that decrease the production of uric acid (e.g., allopurinol) or increase uric acid elimination from the body through the kidneys (e.g., probenecid), this can be referred to as refractory chronic gout.