What is Arthritis?

Arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint. There are over 100 different types of arthritis but they all involve inflammation and deterioration of the joints. The deterioration begins with the cartilage and as the condition progresses continues on with the bones of the joint.

Joint Anatomy

A joint is simply the location where two bones meet. The two bones need to be attached to each other but also need to be able to move in order for the joint to flex and extend.

Joints

in the human body consist of several components and each of these components have a specific purpose. If any one of these components fails or deteriorates, the joint fails to work smoothly and can become painful. The components listed below are not the only components found in some joints but are common in all joints.

Cartilage

covers the ends of the bones that meet in the joint. The cartilage is a smooth slippery component of the joint which cushions the bones and allows the  joint to flex and extend with very little friction. If the cartilage wears away, the bones begin rubbing directly on each other and deteriorating. 

Ligaments

are stringy flexible tissues that have some elasticity  and hold the bones in the joint together. As the joints flex and extend the ligaments shorten and lengthen as needed. The range of flex and extension in a joint is restricted by how long the ligaments will stretch. 

Most major joints also have a fluid sac around them that is known as a bursa. The bursa reduces friction in the joint by allowing the muscles and tendons around the joint to slide freely during movement.

Symptoms of Arthritis

These symptoms are fairly common among many types of arthritis. Specific types of arthritis have specific symptoms which can include some of these and others:

  • Persistent pain in a joint
  • Increased pain when a joint is used
  • Joint inflammation
  • Loss of joint flexibility
  • Reduced range of motion in joint
  • Joint deformity
  • Severe fatigue

These symptoms are indications of arthritis, they may or may not be present for everyone suffering  from the disease and they are not definitive in diagnosing arthritis. Diagnosis needs to be made by a physician.

THIS MATERIAL DOES NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICIAN FOR SPECIFIC TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS.