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Arthritis Overview

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Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two bones meet. A joint functions to allow movement of the body parts it connects. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis is frequently accompanied by joint pain. Joint pain is referred to as arthralgia.

Arthritis is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases. These are conditions that are different individual illnesses, with differing features, treatments, complications, and prognosis. They are similar in that they have a tendency to affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, and many have the potential to affect internal body areas as well.

There are many forms of arthritis (over 100 have been described so far, and the number is growing). The forms range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation as a result of an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis). Together, the many forms of arthritis make up the most common chronic illness in the United States.

Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults. More than half of those with arthritis are under 65 years of age. A majority of Americans with arthritis are women.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2015
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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Arthritis:

Arthritis - Effective Treatments

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Arthritis - Symptoms

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Arthritis - Experience

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Arthritis Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Note: We recommend that you consider using this page as a reference for your consultation with your doctor.

1. What is my diagnosis and how can I learn more about it?

2. Does my type of arthritis condition only affect the joints or are there other areas of my body that can be involved? Can my eyes, heart, lungs, brain, or kidneys be affected? How?

3. What is the likely course of this form of arthritis? What is the long-term outlook?

4. What are my treatment options? What are the risks of not treating at all?

5. If my symptoms worsen, what should I do on my own? When should I contact you?

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Rheumatoid Arthritis »

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease of unknown cause that primarily affects the peripheral joints in a symmetric pattern.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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