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What is arthritis?

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in your joints. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common in the UK, but there are many different types, each with a different set of symptoms and treatment options.

It’s more common as you get older, but it can affect anyone, including children.

Arthritis symptoms

The symptoms of arthritis can be varied - it will depend on which type of arthritis you have and which joints are affected. The most common two types of arthritis and some of their symptoms are listed below:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and it usually develops as you get older (over 40), although people of any age may be affected.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint, and you may not be able to move it very well.

It usually affects knees, hips and joints in your hands, but can affect anywhere, and the severity of the symptoms will vary from person to person.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This condition is caused by the immune system attacking the joints, usually starting with the outer covering of the joint. It can spread across the whole joint, causing it to change shape.

The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint. It may feel warm to touch, and tender.

To read more about osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and for a comprehensive list of arthritis types symptoms, click here.

Getting an arthritis diagnosis

A doctor will discuss all of your symptoms with you, examine the affected joints, which they can look at during a video consultation, and gather all the relevant information they need.

If the doctor cannot make a diagnosis during a video consultation, for example, if you need a physical examination in a surgery or at a hospital, they can refer you for this.

For suspected autoimmune diseases or suspected rheumatoid arthritis, you may be referred for blood tests - this will also help to rule out any other possible causes or to find out how severe your problem is.

For more information about what will happen during your consultation, click here.

Arthritis causes

The cause of arthritis will depend on the type you have.

Some types of arthritis can affect members of the same family, which means that if a close relative has arthritis, it may make you more likely to develop the condition.

For osteoarthritis, causes can include wear and tear to your joints, your lifestyle, injury, obesity or a pre-existing condition can cause it to develop.

Rheumatoid arthritis is linked to your immune system, but other things can contribute to making it worse, including smoking.

Learn more about the causes of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis treatment

Arthritis treatments vary depending upon your symptoms and the type of arthritis that you have. There is no cure for arthritis but treatments exist and lifestyle changes can be made, in order to manage the condition.

The treatment that a doctor or specialist will recommend for you will be based on the symptoms you have and which type of arthritis you are diagnosed with.

There is no cure for arthritis, so treatment is used to manage the pain and try to prevent the condition getting worse. Treatments can be a combination of changes to your lifestyle, medication and therapy to help keep the joints mobile.

If your arthritis cannot be managed using other treatments, then surgery might be considered.

Your treatment will be tailored to you to ensure it is effective. Find out more about how arthritis can be treated.