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Pain

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a term that refers to a group of conditions where joints of the body become inflamed. There are over 100 types of arthritis and they affect the body’s joints, the tissues around the joints and other kinds of connective tissues.

Common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, childhood arthritis and gout. Most people with arthritis experience aching, pain, stiffness and swelling, which may lead to difficulty moving or doing daily activities.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, or “OA”, is the most common form of arthritis in Canada. It is estimated that most of us will deal with osteoarthritis at some point in our lives. OA is common in older people and happens when the protective cushioning material (cartilage) between your bones breaks down and the bones thicken. This causes the joints to become damaged. OA mostly occurs in the feet, hands, hips, knees and spine.

Osteoarthritis risk factors

You may be more likely to get osteoarthritis if you:

  • Are an older adult
  • Have family members who have it
  • Are overweight
  • Have had a joint injury in the past

Other types of arthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) — RA is a type of arthritis that’s caused by an autoimmune reaction. Autoimmune conditions are conditions where your body’s immune system (the system designed to attack outside things like germs and viruses) attacks your body’s own healthy tissues. In RA, the immune system causes inflammation of joints.
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) — SLE, or “lupus” for short, is also another autoimmune type of arthritis. In lupus, the immune response affects many parts of the body like the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain. Women get lupus much more often than men do.
  • Gout — When a person has gout, the joints are damaged when the kidneys don’t get rid of enough of a substance called uric acid. This substance builds up and causes painful flare-ups that affect the big toe, ankle, knee, foot, hand, wrist or elbow.
  • Childhood arthritis — Childhood arthritis, also called juvenile arthritis, is a serious, debilitating and chronic type of arthritis that happens in children or adolescents.

If you have arthritis, you’re not alone. Over 4 million Canadians suffer from arthritis. Keeping yourself healthy, eating well, not carrying excess weight and trying not to put stress on your joints can help you reduce your risk of arthritis or help with arthritis symptoms.

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