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What is arthritis? Symptoms of joint condition, how common is rheumatoid and osteoarthritis in UK, treatments

Arthritis affects people of all ages

More than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints in the UK.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has previously spoken about his mum, Jo, suffering from Still’s disease, a rare form of arthritis which can destroy the joints.

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But what are the different types of arthritis and what are the symptoms?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.

Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children.

What are the types of arthritis?

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting nearly nine million people.

It most often develops in people in their mid-40s or older and is also more common in women and people with a family history of the condition.

However, it can occur at any age as a result of an injury or be associated with other joint-related conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, which makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness.

The most commonly affected joints are those in the hands, spine, knees and hips.

Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 400,000 people in the UK and often starts when a person is between 40 and 50 years old.

Women are also three times more likely to be affected than men.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling.

People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

The symptoms you experience will vary depending on the type of arthritis you have, but it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis if you have:

  • joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • inflammation in and around the joints
  • restricted movement of the joints
  • warm red skin over the affected joint
  • weakness and muscle wasting

How is arthritis treated?

There’s no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can help slow it down, according to the NHS.

Osteoarthritis treatments include lifestyle changes, medicines and surgery, whereas treatment for rheumatoid arthritis aims to slow the condition’s progress and minimise joint inflammation to help prevent joint damage.

Treatments include medication, physiotherapy and surgery.