Arthritis is a symptom, which simply means inflammation of the joints.
There are a few different variations of Arthritis that targets people of different age group and demographics.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common serious inflammatory form of arthritis. The symptoms include inflammation and soft tissue swelling of many joints at the same time. It is an autoimmune disorder whereby the deregulated immune system starts to attack the joints. It is a chronic condition in which the synovium (the tissue that lines and lubricates the joints) becomes inflamed. Rheumatoid arthritis is three to four times more common in women than in men. Even though it normally occurs at the age of 30 and above, children can also be affected. Basically, anyone at any age can have rheumatoid arthritis.
Gout is a very common condition, where 80% of those affected are men. It is caused by the formation of multiple, needle-like uric acid crystals in a joint. It is commonly associated with diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. In its most common form, gout is an intensely painful arthritis, where one joint (usually the big toe or the knee) becomes very hot, swollen and tender; painful to the point where even light touching causes extreme pain.
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is wear and tear of the joints cartilage over time, combined with thickening of the bone surrounding the area and bony outgrowth (osteophytes) at the joint margin. Cartilage is the cushion inside your joint. This tissue is firm, thick and slippery. It covers and protects the ends of bones where they meet to form a joint. When osteoarthritis hits, such simple, everyday movements can hurt. Taking the stairs can be painful. Walking a few steps, opening a door, and even combing your hair can be hard. Osteoarthritis accounts for 23% of knee pain in those above 55 years of age and 39% in those over 65 years.
*Excerpt from All About Arthritis by Arthritis Foundation Malaysia 2008