What is Arthritis?

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term that covers several conditions. It is used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints. If you think you have arthritis, a visit to the GP should be arranged. They will be able to prescribe medication to ease the pain depending on the type of arthritis you have and refer you to see a Rheumatologist if necessary.



Osteoarthritis is very common and can affect any joint but generally affects the knees, feet and hands. In a healthy joint, cartilage covers the surface of bones and lets them move freely against each other. If the joint becomes worn or damaged,  the tissues try to repair, which can cause extra bone to form at the end of the bones. This can then restrict movement or rub against other tissues. The lining of the joint can thicken and more fluid may be produced in the joint capsule which can cause the joint to swell. Finally, tissues around the joint may stretch which may make the joint lose its shape. Keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight will help to put less pressure on your joints.


Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis and is an auto immune condition. This means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues which causes inflammation. If we cut ourselves, inflammation is a good thing as the body sends blood and fluid to fight an infection. However, for Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, it means that it can make a joint painful and difficult to move. Chemicals in the fluid can damage bones and joints. It can also irritate the nerve ending which causes pain and the fluid can stretch the joint capsule. The inflammation can cause permanent damage to the joint.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis include swollen and tender joints, swelling and stiffness in the joints (that last for more than 30 minutes), severe tiredness and generally feeling unwell.


Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an auto immune condition that causes pain and stiffness in and around the joint, with the addition of psoriasis. It usually affects people who already have psoriasis, but arthritis can develop before the psoriasis.


What causes arthritis?

It is difficult to say what causes arthritis generally, but it could be inherited. Geneticists have discovered markers in the blood which can increase your risk of developing arthritis.


How does arthritis affect you day to day? 

The pain caused by Arthritis can make it difficult to carry out daily tasks like getting in and out of bed, showering, dressing, preparing food, getting in and out of a chair or getting on and off the toilet.


For further tips on dealing with Arthritis, why not take a look at some of our other blogs below.

Tips for preparing and carrying food with arthritis - Click here to view.

Tips for completing transfers with arthritis - Click here to view. 

Tips for dressing with arthritis - Click here to view. 

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