Nearly one in three adults suffers from swollen, stiff and painful joints of arthritis. Arthritis is the most common chronic ailment among the elderly, although it can affect people of any age, including children. There are over 100 different types of arthritic disease. The most common is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage protecting the bone wears away. Some osteoarthritis is expected as part of the normal aging process.
Other types of arthritis include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease
- Post-traumatic arthritis, resulting from an injury or surgical procedure
- Infectious arthritis, caused by an infection elsewhere in the body
- Psoriatic arthritis, which also involves skin lesions
- Gout, caused by the buildup of uric acid, often in the big toe
Treatment for arthritis typically involves a combination of anti-inflammatory medication and devices to relieve stress on the joint, such as orthopedic boots, canes, crutches, braces, splints or walkers. Regular exercise, weight loss for overweight patients, and cortisone injections may also be helpful. In severe cases, orthopedic surgery such as joint replacement may be the only way to improve or restore function and relieve pain.