If you have trouble moving around or feel pain and stiffness in your body, you could have arthritis. In the majority of cases arthritis causes pain and swelling in the joints.
Eventually a swollen joint can suffer severe damage. In some cases, arthritis can cause problems in the patient’s eye, skin or other organs.
Arthritis is not a single disease – it is a term that covers over 100 medical conditions. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and generally affects elderly patients. Some forms of arthritis can affect people at a very early age.
What causes arthritis?
In order to better understand what is going on when a person suffers from some form of arthritis, look at a joint how it works.
Basically, a joint is where one bone moves on another bone. Ligaments hold the two bones together. The ligaments are like elastic bands, while they keep the bones in place your muscles relax or contract to make the joint move.
Cartilage covers the bone surface to stop the two bones from rubbing directly against each other. The covering of cartilage allows the joint to work smoothly and painlessly.
A capsule surrounds the joint. The space within the joint – the joint cavity – has synovial fluid. Synovial fluid nourishes the joint and the cartilage. The synovial fluid is produced by the synovium (synovial membrane) which lines the joint cavity.
If you have arthritis something goes wrong with the joint(s). What goes wrong depends on what type of arthritis you have. It could be that the cartilage is wearing away, a lack of fluid, autoimmunity (your body attacking itself), infection, or a combination of many factors.
Arthritis are caused by a combination of several factors working together. The following factors may contribute towards a higher arthritis risk:
- Your genetic makeup
- A physically demanding job, especially one with repetitive movements
- A previous injury
- Some infections or allergic reactions may cause short-term arthritis. When it is caused by an infection it is known as “reactive arthritis”
- For a number of people certain foods can either bring on arthritis symptoms, or make existing ones worse
- Obesity, which places extra strain on joints4
- Arthritis may also be caused by autoimmune disease5.