Rheumatoid arthritis, aka “inflammatory arthritis,” is fairly common, although it is not an easily understood form of arthritis. Those suffering from arthritis typically report soreness around joints, which is worse after prolonged sitting, standing, or inactivity. Pain can get worse when you move, like when you bend your knees. You may notice popping or clicking sounds in the affected joint(s) with movement, and the joint may be sensitive or painful to the touch. Arthritis can also cause pain when you exercise or work, and the pain may go away after you stop doing that activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis develops as an autoimmune response, meaning that the immune system sees the joints as a threat and decides to attack them. Researchers have come to believe that your medical history, environment, and hormones could all be contributing factors toward the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Also, it is typically more prevalent in females than in males. Because it is an autoimmune condition, it is common for it to affect the same joints on different sides of the body.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is typically easy to diagnose. It can be caused by a sudden injury to the joint, or it can develop after a previous injury has fully healed. For example, let’s say you were a football player in college who experienced a harsh blow to the knee. You seek treatment, recover, and return to the game. Although the injury healed, damage occurred to the cartilage or surrounding muscles, decreasing support to the joint, or changing the motion of the joint slightly. Therefore, it is still possible for you to develop osteoarthritis from that injury later in life.
Overuse or repetitive motion careers can also result in osteoarthritis. If you are a carpenter who swings a hammer in repetitive motions as a crucial part of your job, you may develop osteoarthritis in the joints of your elbows or hands. Being overweight may also put you at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis, as additional strain is being put on your knee and hip joints.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of the joint wears down, either due to age or overuse. This causes pain in the joint, as the cartilage is no longer acting as the thick cushion that it once was. Without a cushion, the bones grind together, which in turn causes an inflammatory response in the joint.