Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joint. Arthritis affects cartilage, the smooth tissue covering the ends of bones in the joints. Healthy cartilage lubricates and cushions the joints, providing pain-free movement. Arthritic joints have varying degrees of cartilage damage resulting in swollen, painful and stiff joints.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 100 types of arthritis that affect 43 million Americans each year. The two primary types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation when the immune system mistakenly attacks the joint tissues.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting 23 million Americans annually. It is a progressive, degenerative disease of the joint cartilage that may result from overuse or injury and also from a genetic predisposition. Osteoarthritis typically begins in a small area and as the “wear and tear” of the cartilage progresses, eventually results in painful bone-on-bone contact. Symptoms of arthritis include joints that are warm to the touch, swollen, painful and stiff and can lead to decreased activity and impaired lifestyle from immobility.