Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are common conditions that cause pain, swelling and limited movement. They affect joints and connective tissues around the body. Millions of people in the U.S. have some form of arthritis.
Arthritis means redness and swelling (inflammation) of a joint. A joint is where two or more bones meet. There are more than 100 different arthritis diseases. Rheumatic diseases include any condition that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments or bones. Arthritis is usually ongoing (chronic).
Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are more common in women than men. They are also often linked with old age, but they affect people of all ages.
The two most common forms of arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis. This is the most common type of arthritis. It is a chronic disease of the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints of the knee, hip and spine. It destroys the padding on the ends of bones (cartilage) and narrows the joint space. It can also cause bone overgrowth, bone spurs and reduced function. It occurs in most people as they age. It may also occur in young people from an injury or overuse.
Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an inflammatory disease of the joint linings. The inflammation may affect all of the joints. It can also affect organs such as the heart or lungs.
Other forms of arthritis or related disorders include:
Gout. This condition causes uric acid crystals to build up in small joints, such as the big toe. It causes pain and inflammation.
Lupus. This is a chronic autoimmune disorder. It causes periods of inflammation and damage in joints, tendons and organs.
Scleroderma. This autoimmune disease causes thickening and hardening of the skin and other connective tissue in the body.
Ankylosing spondylitis. This disease causes the bones of the spine to grow together. It can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body. It can affect the shoulders, hips, ribs and the small joints of the hands and feet.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) or juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). This is a form of arthritis in children that causes inflammation and joint stiffness. Children often outgrow JRA, but it can affect bone development in a growing child.
Post-traumatic arthritis. This type of arthritis is often the result of a physical injury or fracture to a joint, such as a hip, knee or ankle.