People of all ages can suffer from arthritis, not just older people.

Arthritis is caused by an inflammation of the joints. Inflammation is part of the body’s normal healing process after injury and if it becomes extreme, it can cause pain, stiffness and swelling.

Causes

There are a number of factors which can cause arthritis, including:

 

· Gender – certain types of arthritis are generally found more in women than in men

· Age – osteoarthritis often affects older people

· Genetics – arthritis can run in families, particularly rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis of the fingers

· Injury – damage to a joint , for example a sporting injury, can cause osteoarthritis when people are older

· Infections – some viral and other infections can prompt types of arthritis

· Lifestyle – osteoarthritis is more common in people who are overweight. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in people who smoke

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear and tear” or degenerative arthritis and most often affects people in their late 40s or older. It is more common in women and people who have a family history of the condition.

Osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint which makes movement difficult and causes pain and stiffness.

The cartilage inside the joint acts as a shock absorber. If the cartilage lining starts to thin out, it is harder for the tendons and ligaments which move the joint to work. This can cause swelling and the growth of bony spurs. If the cartilage loss is extreme it can lead to bone rubbing on bone which can change the shape of the joint.

The most common joints affected by osteoarthritis are:

· Knee

· Hands

· Spine

· Hip

· Foot and ankle

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and happens when the immune system attacks the joints. This causes inflammation, pain and swelling around the joint. Women are much more likely to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis than men.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints and can result in bone erosion and joint deformity.

People with rheumatoid arthritis may develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body.

The most common joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis are:

· Hand and wrist

· Foot and ankle

· Elbow

· Knee