Arthritis Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Many people tend to think of arthritis as a condition that affects older people, but there are different types of arthritis that affect people of all ages.

The Painful Facts

Arthritis affects around 46 million adults in the U.S.—that’s about one in five Americans! And the number is rising. Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints and can affect anyone from young children to seniors. Generally characterized by joint pain and stiffness, this condition makes movement painful and difficult.

Symptoms & Types of Arthritis

The overall description of arthritis symptoms is pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, as well as reduced joint mobility. The condition can appear in different forms and types—there are more than 100 types of arthritis! Here are some of the most common types of arthritis:


The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage covering the end of the bones gradually wears away. It can occur in any joint, but typically affects the hands and weight-bearing joints like your knee, hip and spine. Osteoarthritis is caused when cartilage breaks down with age or overuse.

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

A long-lasting disease that can affect joints in any part of your body except the lower back. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the hands, wrists, knees and feet.


Gout is a condition that occurs when your body can’t eliminate a natural substance called uric acid. The excess uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints that cause intense inflammation. Gout is extremely painful and often affects the wrist joints, big toe or knee.

The Good News—Treatment for Arthritis

Joint health can be improved with exercise, medication and the right lifestyle habits. Physical therapists can help with your arthritis by:

  • Teaching you how to reduce strain on your joints during daily activities
  • Teach you how to modify your home and workplace to reduce motions that may aggravate arthritis
  • Provide splints for your wrists or hands
  • Teach you exercises designed to preserve the mobility, strength and use of your joints
  • Teach you proper posture while sitting and standing to protect the integrity of your joints
  • Educate you on the use of walking aids when necessary
  • Teach you joint protection techniques
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