Arthritis is a very common condition that causes joint pain and inflammation.
There are many different types of arthritis with a wide range of symptoms. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type and affects around 8.5 million people.
In cases of osteoarthritis, the connective tissue (cartilage) between bones gradually wastes away, causing bones in the joints to rub together. The joints that are most commonly affected are in the hands, spine, knees and hips.
Osteoarthritis often develops through repetitive usage and in people who are over 50 years of age. However, injury or another joint-related condition can cause it to develop at any age.
Rheumatoid arthritis, although less common, is a lot more severe than osteoarthritis. It occurs as a result of the body's immune system attacking and destroying the affected joints, causing pain and swelling to occur. This leads to a reduction in movement and bone and cartilage breaks down.
The symptoms experienced will vary depending on the type of arthritis. There are, however, common arthritic symptoms which include:
joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
inflammation in and around the joints
restricted movement of the joints
warmth and redness of the skin over the affected joint
weakness and muscle wasting
Arthritis is not age restrictive and can affect children. Around 12,000 children under 16 years of age have arthritis in the UK.
Most types of childhood arthritis are known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). JIA causes pain and inflammation of the joints and can last for at least six weeks.
The symptoms usually improve as a child gets older, allowing them to lead a normal life.