Arthritis is a general term which is commonly associated with a number of
painful conditions affecting the joints and bones. The term "arthritis" literally
translates to "joint inflammation."
There are approximately 100 different forms of this condition, and it affects
millions of people throughout the world. Symptoms can include joint pain,
stiffness, inflammation, and limited movement of joints. When a joint is
inflamed, it may be swollen, tender, red, or warm to the touch.
In a healthy joint, the ends of the bones are covered by cartilage, a spongy
material that allows almost frictionless motion between bones. The joints are
enclosed in a capsule and lined with tissue called the synovium. This lining
releases a slippery, lubricating fluid that helps the joint move smoothly and
With arthritis, the cartilage may be damaged or worn away by degenerative
processes or by inflammation, making movement painful and difficult. If left
undiagnosed and untreated, arthritis may progress to cause irreversible
damage to the joints.
Contrary to popular belief, arthritis affects all age groups. It's more common in
those over forty-five, and in the case of osteoarthritis, three-fourths of the cases
occur in women.
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