Most Prevalent Forms of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA)

When OA develops in a joint, the cartilage roughens and becomes thin, and the bone underneath thickens. The bone at the edge of the joint grows outward, forming nodules (osteophytes). The synovium may produce extra fluid which makes the joint swell slightly.

The capsule and ligaments slowly thicken and contract – trying to stabilize the joint as it gradually changes shape. Muscles that move the joint may weaken and atrophy (reduce in size and strength).

Due to the increased activity of the tissues in the affected joint, the attempted repair is often successful – especially in the finger joints. This is the reason many people with OA in the finger joints often do not feel pain once the nodules (osteophytes) are visible.

The development of osteophytes is irreversible.

However, when the repair cannot compensate for the damage to the joint, movement becomes difficult and painful, exacerbated by inflammation. This occurs particularly in large joints such as knees, hips and back.

Pseudogout occurs when chalky deposits of calcium crystals form in the cartilage. When they loosen from the cartilage the synovium becomes irritated causing swelling, redness, and heat (resembling gout).

Causes of OA

There are a few factors that can increase the risk of developing OA and, usually, it is more than one factor that is responsible


As OA is a degenerative (wear and tear) process, it typically manifests from the late 40’s and sometimes even later. OA is uncommon in younger people


OA is more prevalent in women (post menopause)


Weight gain contributes to the risk. This exerts more pressure on certain joints (especially the knees)


A particularly strong factor – notably in the hands

Joint injury

An earlier injury, surgery or excessive use of certain joints can result in OA later in life

Joint disease

If a joint was affected by an earlier condition (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis), leaving it in a weakened state, OA can develop later

Arthritis of the knee

Joints Affects



Neck & Back



Activities and Exercise

Muscle strengthening exercise ensures better stability of the muscles supporting the joint and reduces pain. Cardiovascular exercise increases energy, promotes better overall well-being, and reduces pain.
Regular, moderate exercise and stretching can also ease the stiffness associated with OA.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the synovium. If detected and treated in the early stages (less than 3 months from onset of symptoms), the condition can often be arrested, and joint damage prevented.

Inflammation occurs within the synovium. Increased blood flow to the joint causes redness and warmth. The buildup of fluid in the synovium causes swelling. The joint capsule is stretched by the swelling and the nerve endings are irritated by the inflammatory chemicals, resulting in pain.

Difference between OA and RA:

RA – inflammation of the lining of the joint (synovium).
OA – degeneration (“wear and tear”) of the cartilage.
Sometimes OA can develop in joints that have been damaged by RA (in the later stages).

If RA is untreated, or not treated aggressively enough in the early stages, cartilage, bone and even ligaments can be irreversibly damaged. Quite often the tendons are also affected. The inflammation in the joints can make a person feel generally unwell and can cause extreme tiredness. The symptoms of RA are largely unpredictable in the flare-ups – having weeks of no symptoms and then, for no apparent reason, the joint pain and tiredness return.

RA can affect any age, from children through to the elderly. Both genders are susceptible, although 3 times more women are affected. The most common age range for the disease to develop is between 40 and 50. Usually, the onset of RA is gradual – e.g., fingers, wrists or balls of the feet become uncomfortable and may swell (often intermittently) and morning stiffness becomes more frequent.

In about 20% of cases, the disease develops very rapidly – sudden onset of pain and swelling in a few joints, severe morning stiffness and difficulty in doing everyday tasks.
Tiredness, irritability, and depression may accompany the pain and stiffness.

It is best to consult a medical practitioner as soon as the symptoms appear, as early diagnosis can often prevent further deterioration.

Causes of RA

There are a few factors that can increase the risk of developing OA and, usually, it is more than one factor that is responsible


A particularly strong factor – notably in the hands


There is no specific reason that causes autoimmune disease

Joints Affects


Toes, Ankles, Balls of Feet




Activities and Exercise

Low impact exercise is best – swimming, aquarobics and walking are good choices. Balance exercise and rest. Do not overdo activity on the good days, as the joints will most likely react the next day.


People get gout because there is something wrong with the chemical processes of their body. It is a genetic abnormality in the part of the kidney that transports uric acid across from the blood into the urine. Overindulging in alcohol, red meats and excess sugar-containing foods can exacerbate this but does not cause it.

Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down your own cells, food, and alcoholic drinks. Excess uric acid builds up and forms crystals in the joints, causing acute pain. There are many phases of gout, and it may start with just one joint but can lead to many joints being involved, and with time, there may be a shorter interval between attacks leading to chronic gout. It can eventually lead to chronic kidney disease, as well as OA and destruction of joints.

Causes of Gout

Kidney impairment



OA is more prevalent in women (post menopause)


Weight gain contributes to the risk. This exerts more pressure on certain joints (especially the knees)


A particularly strong factor – notably in the hands

Alcohol & Food

High alcohol and purine-rich food consumption

Water intake

Not drinking sufficient water during the day

Joints Affects

Most common is the big toe but it can affect any joint, including the ankle, knee, elbow, wrist, or fingers. When gout becomes chronic it can form lumps called tophi on the fingers, elbows, ears, and other joints in the body. If a joint has been injured, it may be prone to gout.


Avoid painkillers containing aspirin, as they may restrict the kidneys’ ability to eliminate the uric acid.
Prescribed medication: These drugs decrease the production of uric acid in the body and retard the destruction of your joints. They can also shrink the tophaceous lumps once they have developed.
For treating gout, it is preferable to take medicines prescribed by your doctor.

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