What Is Arthritis?

The term arthritis refers to an “inflammation of a joint”.

It is used to refer to over 100 rheumatic diseases that are characterized by problems in and around joints. Rheumatic Diseases/ Autoimmune Diseases occur when the body attacks itself (specifically the joints) causing inflammation, pain and degeneration of the connective tissue. Most are chronic and have no cure.

Arthritis can reduce strength and mobility for performing even the most routine of chores around work or home. It is one of the most common disabling conditions, but can be managed through diet, exercise, education, and care.

Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis:

  • Persistent pain
  • Stiffness, swelling, redness or heat in the joint
  • Difficulty performing daily activities
  • Difficulty moving the joint
  • Possible fatigue, weight loss, nausea
  • Early detection is key- if persistent pain is for more than 2 weeks, see a specialist (rheumatologist)


Osteoarthritis- 27 million Americans are affected
Osteoarthritis (OA) is sometimes called degenerative joint disease because it causes the breakdown of cartiliage and bones over time, causing pain and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis usually affects the fingers and weight-bearing joints, including the knees, hips, back, and neck, but can affect other joints and the hands.

It affects both men and women, and usually occurs after the age of 44.

Rheumatoid Arthritis- 1.3 million Americans are affected

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an abnormality in the body’s immune system that is associated with an inflammation of the joints. It can cause redness and warmth in the joints, and often causes a general feeling of sickness and fatigue, along with weight loss and fever.

Rheumatoid Arthritis often affects the same joints on both sides of the body, and usually affects the hands, wrists, feet, knees, ankles, shoulders, neck, jaw, and elbows.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is more common in women than men, and usually begins between the ages of 25 and 50.

Other related types of arthritis: bursitis, tendonitis, lupus, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, gout, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

For more information on any of the arthritis-related diseases, please contact the Arthritis Foundation-Indiana Chapter at 1-800-783-2342.