The term arthritis simply means “joint inflammation.” Inflammation is the body’s natural reaction to injury or disease. If it persists for a prolonged period of time, inflammation can lead to tissue damage, as in arthritis.
Your joints are places where two or more bones meet. Many bones form joints which are covered with a spongy, fibrous material called cartilage. This material cushions the bone, allows free movement of the joint, and stabilizes the joint.
Also, there is a lining of the joint called the synovium, a thin film of tissue that produces slippery fluid to nourish the joint and ease movement. With arthritis, the structures of the joint are inflamed and diseased, causing pain and stiffness.
Types of Arthritis
There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis – This type of arthritis occurs when the cartilage of a joint wears away. Without the protection, bones rub against each other leading to swelling and pain. Osteoarthritis can occur in almost any joint, and as the cartilage breaks down and degenerates with age and overuse, this disease develops.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – This kind of arthritis is a long-lasting, chronic disorder that results in deformities of the joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, usually the thin membrane that lines the joints, leading to joint swelling and inflammation. The cartilage and bone is damaged as well as the surrounding joint tissues.
Because there are many different types of arthritis, there are also many varying symptoms. Most osteoarthritis causes pain, joint stiffness, and limited mobility. With rheumatoid arthritis, however, the symptoms affect more than just the joint. People with this type of arthritis have fatigue, fever, rashes as well as joint redness, tenderness, stiffness, and swelling.
Early Signs and Symptoms
Some of the early signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis are joint pain, stiffness of the joint, and a decrease in joint range of movement. Later osteoarthritis signs and symptoms include tenderness and swelling of the joint, loss of movement, and Herberden’s nodes. Herberden’s nodes are hard, bony nodules that form on the end of the finger joint. They are due to formation of calcific spurs.
For rheumatoid arthritis, the early symptoms and signs include morning joint stiffness, tender and swollen joints, fatigue, weight loss, and decreased joint mobility. As rheumatoid arthritis progresses, expect to have loss of joint function, severe deformities, large Bouchard’s nodules, and grinding sensations with movement.
Bouchard’s nodes are gelantinous cysts and bony growths on the middle joints of the fingers and toes.
*For more information on Arthritis following on here from Andrei's article, what causes it, and what are some other signs and symptoms, please go to this link on our site Arthritis Information
- MayoClinic.com (2013). Rheumatoid arthritis. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/DS00020/DSECTION=symptoms
- Van der Horst, I.E. et al. (1998). Diagnosis and course of early-onset arthritis: results of a special early arthritis clinic compared to routine patient care. Rheumatology, 37(10): 1084 – 1088.
Visser, H. et al. (2002). How to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis early: A prediction model for persistent (erosive) arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 46(2): 357 – 365. DOI: 10.1002/art.10117