What is Arthritis & How Does it Occur?

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WHAT IS ARTHRITIS & HOW DOES IT OCCUR? Simon Evans PhysiotherapyArthritis is a widely known condition characterised by inflammation of the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis each of which has their own causes and different treatment methods including Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the two most common types.

Arthritis symptoms usually develop as time goes on, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 52.5 million American adults suffer from some form of arthritis.

Individuals with arthritis, can experience mild discomfort with the symptoms aggravating as time goes on. Although your risk of arthritis may increase with age, it is not restricted to older adults.

Having a better understanding of the causes and risk factors of arthritis has been found to be helpful in designing a preventive measure and help to control the symptoms from getting worse or delaying the onset of the disease.

What are the Causes of Arthritis?

Although there are many types of arthritis, the two major categories are Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Each of these types of arthritis has different causes.

Wear & Tear

Osteoarthritis usually occurs as a result of wear-and-tear to the joints. Excessive use of the joints can cause the breakdown of protective cartilage in your joints and results in a situation where the bone rubs against other bones. This feeling can be very painful and can lead to reduced movement.


Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks itself. Most commonly when the body attacks the membrane that surrounds the joint parts and lead to inflammation or swollen joints, cartilage, bone destruction and eventually pain. Affected individuals can also experience other symptoms of inflammation, such as fever and loss of appetite.


Most of the times, traumatic injury or joint infection can improve the development of arthritis. For example, reactive arthritis is a type of arthritis that can occur as a result of certain infections. This includes sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, fungal infections and food-borne diseases.


The breakdown of purine by the body results in the formation of uric acid. However, with individuals with high levels of uric acid due to the body unable to eliminate it; results in the acid accumulating leading to the formation of crystals in the joints. This can lead to serious and sudden pain in the joint, or a gout attack that can occur and also disappear, however when left unattended can become chronic.

Other Causes

Below are some other Skin and Organ Conditions that can cause arthritis.

  • Psoriasis: This is a skin condition that occurs as a result of too much turnover of the skin cell.

  • Sjogren’s: This is a condition that may cause a reduction in saliva, tears and systemic disease

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: or conditions including inflammation of the digestive tract such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

What are the Risk Factors of Arthritis?

There are some factors that have been found to increase the development of all types of arthritis that include:

  • Age: Older age increases the risk of developing arthritis, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

  • Family History: In the event that there is a history of arthritis in your family, it is possible that you could develop it as well.

  • Gender: Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men, however gout is more prevalent amongst men.

  • Obesity: Excessive body weight can increase the risk of osteoarthritis due to too much pressure exerted on the joints.

  • History of Previous Injuries: Individuals who are injured from activities such as sports, car accidents or other events that as a result are more likely to later suffer from arthritis.

In the event that you do not experience symptoms, it is imperative that you contact your doctor and talk about the possible risk of arthritis to help find ways to prevent or delay symptoms.

Your doctor may prescribe medication, recommend surgery and encourage you to take physiotherapist sessions. In addition, there are some things you can do at home that can ease arthritis such as taking a warm shower, engaging in gentle stress exercises and applying an ice pack on the sore area.

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