Definition

Painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints.

Most Common Types

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Causes

Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage in the joint. Enough damage can cause bone-on-bone contact, causing pain and movement restriction. This wear and tear can be over many years, or can be due to an injury or infection in the joint.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the synovial membrane (lining) of the joint capsule, leading to inflammation and swelling of the membrane, and can eventually lead to destruction of the cartilage and bone within the capsule.

Other types of arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, and thumb arthritis.

Statistics

  • From 2013-2015, 54.4 million Americans (22.7%) were told they had some form of arthritis
  • Adults who are overweight or obese report doctor-diagnosed arthritis more often than adults with a lower body mass index

Risk Factors

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Gender – Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with arthritis
  • Obesity / Overweight
  • Occupations with repetitive bending of joints
  • Previous joint injury or infection
  • Smoking tobacco

Prevention

Though there is no sure method of preventing arthritis, treatments include symptom relief such as losing weight, exercise, applying heat and/or cold to the affected area, medications, assistive devices, and joint surgeries.

  • Avoid jobs which require repetitive bending movements if possible
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Try to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week
  • Quit smoking

Vaccines

The CDC recommends that all adults keep their vaccinations up to date. Childhood immunizations may wear off after time and need a “booster shot,” and you are at risk for other diseases as an adult.

All adults need:

  • Influenza vaccine (every year)
  • Tdap vaccine (if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Check with your doctor to see if there are other vaccines recommended for you.

COVID-19 and Arthritis

People with autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), may be more likely to experience infections. Therefore, those with RA who develop COVID-19 may be at higher risk for developing severe symptoms and additional complications.

Resources

Support Groups