August 2004 
Volume 34  Number 8
Pages 54 - 55
  PDF Version Available!


  • What causes arthritis?

  • How will my health care provider know I have arthritis?

  • How will my health care provider treat my arthritis?

  • What can I do to keep my arthritis from getting worse?

  • How does my arthritis medicine help me?


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    What causes arthritis?

    The most common type of arthritis, called osteoarthritis , is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, the smooth material covering the ends of bones in your joints. Cartilage protects bones from rubbing and absorbs shock when you move. As arthritis gets worse, the cartilage wears away, damaging the joint and causing pain. Your normally flexible joints feel stiff when you have arthritis.

    Joints may be prone to arthritis if they were injured in the past, if you're overweight, or if you have a family history of osteoarthritis. Although arthritis can develop at any age, you're more likely to have it if you're over age 60.

    If you have arthritis, you may feel stiffness or an aching pain in the joint. You may feel worse when you get up in the morning or after you've been sitting for a while. After moving around for about 20 minutes, you may feel less stiffness, but the pain doesn't go away.

    Figure. No caption available. How will my health care provider know I have arthritis?

    Your health care provider will ask you about your symptoms, the joints that hurt, and the pattern of pain. She'll also examine the joint and get an X-ray of it. If your stiffness affects many joints or won't go away, she may do tests to rule out other problems, including other types of arthritis.

    How will my health care provider treat my arthritis?

    Although osteoarthritis can't be cured, you can learn to manage it with lifestyle changes, exercise, physical ...

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