Arthritis is a condition that results in pain and inflammation in joints. There are two main types: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
OA — the most common form of arthritis — occurs when the cartilage that sits between the bones in a joint wears down. People sometimes refer to the condition as “wear and tear” arthritis.
RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue. It causes damage to the joints but can also affect muscles, connective tissue, tendons, and fibrous tissue.
Arthritis is not an uncommon condition. OA is a leading cause of disability in older adults, affecting an estimated 7% of the global population, which equates to more than 500 million people.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), RA is less common but still affects an estimated 0.3–1% of the world’s population. It also tends to appear earlier in life than OA — typically between the ages of 20 and 40 years — and it can severely affect day-to-day activities. The WHO notes, “Within 10 years of onset, at least 50% of patients in developed countries are unable to hold down a full time job.”
Aside from OA and RA, there are several other forms of arthritis, including:
- Juvenile arthritis: This umbrella term describes a group of conditions that affect children.
- Spondyloarthropathies: These autoimmune conditions can attack the joints.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus: This autoimmune condition can affect many tissues of the body, including the joints.
- Gout: In this condition, urate crystals accumulate in joints.
- Infectious and reactive arthritis: This type refers to joint inflammation resulting from an infection.
- Psoriatic arthritis: This condition affects almost one-third of people with psoriasis.
As May is Arthritis Awareness Month, this edition of Medical Myths will tackle some of the misconceptions that surround arthritis.
Arthritis is more common in older adults, but it can affect people of any age. One study, which took data from the National Health Interview Survey in the United States, found that doctors have diagnosed arthritis in 49.7% of adults aged 65 years or older.
However, the researchers also reported that 30.3% of adults aged 45–64 and 7.3% of people aged 18–44 had an arthritis diagnosis. As mentioned above, …….