Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Arthritis or arthritis is inflammation that occurs in one or several joints. This condition usually gets worse with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Check out the full explanation of the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and arthritis medications below.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis or arthritis is a term used to describe around 200 conditions that affect the joints, the tissue that surrounds the joints, and other connective tissue. Some forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, can affect many organs and cause wider symptoms.

When a person experiences this condition, his joints will experience pain, a condition called arthralgia. When four or more joint inflammation is disrupted, it is called polyarthritis. Meanwhile, when two or three joints are disturbed, it is called oligoarthritis. When only one joint is affected, it is called monoarthritis.

Symptoms of Arthritis

The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis are joint disorders. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, signs and symptoms that can occur such as:

  • Pain.
  • Stiffness.
  • Swelling.
  • Reddish.
  • Limitations of motion.

Meanwhile, many people with arthritis show worse symptoms in the morning. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel fatigue or decreased appetite. If you don’t get treatment, rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint deformities.

When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?

Consult a doctor immediately if you experience:

  • Pain and stiffness appear gradually. You may experience the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or other arthritis conditions.
  • The pain comes quickly and is accompanied by fever. You may have infectious arthritis. If there is no fever, you may suffer from gout (often on the big toe) or pseudogout.
  • Feeling pain and stiffness in the arms, legs, or back after sitting for a while or after sleeping at night. You may have rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or other rheumatic conditions.
  • A child who experiences pain in the knees, wrists and legs, pain, fever, poor appetite, and weight loss. Your child may experience juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes of Arthritis

There is no single cause of all types of arthritis. The cause varies according to the type or shape. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which can damage joints in various ways.

  • Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis involves damage to the joint cartilage, the hard and slippery layer at the end of the bones that make up the joint. This condition causes pain and limited body movements. This decline in joint function can occur for years and can be accelerated by joint injury or infection.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis causes the immune system to attack the joints. This layer (synovial membrane) becomes inflamed and swollen. If you do not get treatment, this condition increases the risk of cartilage and bone damage in the joint.

Risk Factors

Risk factors that increase arthritis, include:

  • Family History

Some types of arthritis can occur in families. So, a person may be more likely to develop arthritis if a parent or sibling suffers from the disorder. Genes can make you more vulnerable to environmental factors that can trigger this condition.

  • Age

The risk of various types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, increases with age.

  • Gender

A woman is more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than a man, while the majority of people who suffer from gout are men.

  • Previous Joint Injury

People who suffer joint injuries are more likely to experience arthritis.

  • Obesity

Being overweight puts pressure on the joints, especially the knees, hips, and spine. People with obesity have a higher risk of arthritis.

Arthritis Diagnosis

A diagnosis that is generally made by a doctor is to examine joint swelling. In addition, the doctor will also ask you to move the joint to see how severe the joint condition is.

Depending on the type of arthritis that is suspected, your doctor may suggest the following tests:

Laboratory test

Analysis of various types of body fluids can help determine the type of arthritis you might have. Commonly analyzed fluids include blood, urine, and joint fluid.


These types of tests can detect problems in the joints that might be causing symptoms. Examples include:

  • X-ray

This method uses low level radiation to visualize bones. X-rays can show cartilage loss, bone damage, and bone spurs. X-rays cannot be used to reveal early damage but can be used to track disease progression.

  • Computerized tomography (CT Scan)

This method takes a variety of image angles over X-rays and combines information to create a cross-section of a structure in the body. This procedure can visualize the surrounding bone and soft tissue.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Combining radio waves with strong magnetic fields, MRI can display images of structures and organs in the body from soft tissue such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

  • Ultrasonography

This procedure uses high frequency sound waves to describe soft tissue, cartilage and fluid-containing structures near joints (bursae). Ultrasonography is also used to guide needle placement for joint aspiration and injection.

Types of Arthritis

As the previous explanation, there are more than 200 types of arthritis. But of the various types, conditions are divided into seven main groups:

  • Inflammatory arthritis.
  • Degenerative or mechanical arthritis.
  • Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain.
  • Back pain.
  • Connective tissue disease.
  • Infectious arthritis.
  • Metabolic arthritis.

Arthritis treatment

Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function. You may need to try several different treatments or a combination of treatments before you determine which is best for the body.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is useful for strengthening the muscles around the affected joint. Doctors can recommend this method to reduce limitations on mobility.


The following are some arthritis medications that can be used, including:

  • Analgesics, such as hydrocodone or acetaminophen, are effective for controlling pain, but do not help reduce inflammation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and salicylates, help control pain and inflammation. Salicylates can thin the blood, so it must be used very carefully with additional blood thinning drugs.
  • Menthol or capsaicin cream blocks the transmission of pain signals from the joints.
  • Immunosuppressants such as prednisone or cortisone help reduce inflammation.

If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may give you corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which suppress the immune system. Meanwhile, to treat osteoarthritis many non-prescription or prescription drugs can be used.


If conservative measures don’t help, your doctor may recommend surgery, such as:

  • Joint repair. In some cases, the surface of the joint can be smoothed or adjusted to reduce pain and improve its function. This type of procedure can often be performed arthroscopically, through a small incision in the joint.
  • Joint replacement. This procedure removes damaged joints and replaces them with artificial ones. The most commonly replaced joints are the hips and knees.
  • Joint fusion. This procedure is more often used for smaller joints, such as the wrists, ankles, and fingers. This method removes the ends of the two bones in the joint and then locks the ends together until they become a rigid unit.

Prevention of Arthritis

Basically, there is no effective way to prevent this condition. Arthritis that results from injury can be prevented by complying with safety regulations and trying to avoid injury. While arthritis associated with infection can be prevented away from the cause of the infection.


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