The term literally means inflammation of a joint, but it is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Arthritis is very common, as there are more than 100 types of arthritis. Individuals of all ages, races, and sexes can develop arthritis; however, it occurs more frequently with women and as people get older. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States, with more than 3 million annual cases domestically.
Common symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion as a result of joint inflammation. Symptoms may be temporary or chronic, with varying degrees of discomfort. Some individuals may experi
ence mild, moderate, to severe symptoms, which may remain the same for years but can degenerate over time. Severe arthritis can make it difficult to perform daily activities or walk/climb stairs, as well as cause permanent joint damage. Additional types of arthritis can impact the eyes, kidneys, lungs, and heart.