Arthritis is often thought of as a disease that affects the elderly. That is perhaps the most commonly held misconception. Here we set the record straight.
Arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints. A person with arthritis will typically complain of pain and swelling in the joint(s). Both small joints, such as those in the fingers, and large joints, such as the knee and hip, can be affected.
With worsening arthritis, the joints can become stiff or deformed, resulting in decreased mobility and increased disability.
Besides arthritis, there are many causes of pain at or near joints. These musculoskeletal problems are extremely common. Pain at or near the joints can also be due to soft tissue and bony problems such as tendinitis, bursitis, myalgia and fractures.
Arthritis can be broadly classified into 2 main groups:
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. A form of degenerative or ‘ageing’ disease, it is more common among the elderly although young people may also suffer from it, especially if they have had a significant injury to the joint.
One or more of the classic signs of inflammation should be present – redness, pain, tenderness, swelling and limitation of movement.
Rheumatism is a very general term which people use to describe pain and/or stiffness of muscles and joints. Patients who complain of ‘rheumatism’ may be suffering from arthritis.
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