Arthritis is one of the most common medical problems in the world and perhaps one of the most ancient. Arthritis strikes people of all ages, of both genders, across geographical locations and ethnic backgrounds. Women are at special risk, accounting for almost two-thirds of people with arthritis. Arthritis is a major cause of disability.
The word “arthritis” is a blend of the Greek words “arthron”, for “joint” and “itis” for “inflammation”. So people often talk about arthritis as one disease, it is actually not. There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. Some forms occur gradually because of the natural wear of joints, while others suddenly appear and then disappear, recurring later regardless of treatment. Other forms are chronic and may be progressive.
Joint pain, a sense of discomfort after a period of rest or inactivity and stiffness are probably the best-known general symptoms of arthritis. But arthritic disorders frequently affect more than joints alone. Some forms can affect other organs in your body and can even threaten your life.
Physical trauma, such as ankle sprain or a knee injury, can set the stage for osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Other causes are lack of physical activity, excessive weight or a joint defect such as bowlegs. The ageing process is a factor in osteoarthritis. That is why it has sometimes called the “wear-and-tear” arthritis. Genetic diseases can cause weak cartilage, leading to excess cartilage wear.
Genetic factors are important in the cause of some other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and several other less common forms. Other possible causes or factors include the environment (food, water, and air), infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, or fungi), or an imbalance of certain enzymes.

Signs and Symptoms

1. Breakdown of cartilage (causes pain)
2. Inflammation of the lining of the joints (the synovial membrane), blood vessels, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
3. Development of crystals in the fluid of joints.
4. Shortening of muscles or tendons.
5. Tightening of skin.
6. Loss of joint movement.
7. Decreased muscle strength.
8. Decreased mobility.