What is Arthritis?

A broad field of conditions characterised by a varying range of such signs as joint stiffness, swelling, pain on movement, disfigurement, increased heat over the joint, etc. have been identified. There are more than 100 such conditions, however, the following are common:

  • Osteoarthritis:a degenerative form which due to the fact that it is most common will be described briefly below;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: another fairly common arthritic condition which is more common in women than in men and usually appears in mid life. The effects of Rheumatoid arthritis are not limited to joints only, the person may feel very tired, generally unwell, sore and could have anemia
  • Gout: which is the more acute and recurrent form resulting form deposition of crystals of protein metabolism products in the joints.
  • Ankoylosing spondilitis: primarily involving the spine and para spinal structures. (Some people say this is less common)

Many people think that arthritis only affects older people. This is not true, the above mentioned types of arthritis can strike at any age, including childhood although this is not common.


The onset is usually gradual and localised to one or few joints

  • Characterised by degenerative loss of joint cartilage, pain, stiffness, tenderness or a grating sound on movement
  • The cause is unknown but genetic, metabolic, hormonal, biochemical (body movements) factors have been suggested
  • Can affect hips, knees, spine, hands and sometimes the feet.


The aim of treatment is to reduce pain and maintain mobility

It is always best to seek the correct diagnosis at your nearest health facility for an early appropriate treatment regime.

Moderate exercise to maintain the full range of joint mobility

Reduction of body weight is valuable especially if weight bearing joints are involved

Use of assistive devises eg. Crutches and frames in severe cases protects the weight bearing joints

Heat in the form of water soaks, hot packs or electrical pad to relieve pain.

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This page last edited on 17 January, 2019

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