Arthritis 101

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis (or degenerative joint disease), which is caused when the cartilage between the bones wears down due to injury, infection or age. Most people with arthritis complain of joint pain, which may range from mild to severe and may be constant or intermittent with flare-ups.

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability in the U.S., as the disease can severely limit function and negatively impact quality of life. There are a variety of treatments for arthritis depending on the type of arthritis a person has, including over-the-counter and prescription medications and physical therapy, among others. The main goals of treatment are to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life, as there is no cure. Treatment usually starts with medications that have the fewest side effects; if these are not effective, additional medications are typically added.