Arthritis is a term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet. The most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, inflammation or swelling in a joint, reduced movement of a joint, and general symptoms such as fatigue and feeling unwell. Although it is more prevalent in older people, arthritis can also affect children, adolescents and people of working age, and along with back pain it is the most common cause of disability and forced retirement from the workplace.
Appropriate management of arthritis varies depending on the type and severity of the condition and the parts of the body affected however exercise and weight loss are priorities in the management of arthritis. While some more extreme cases can be effectively treated with joint replacement surgery, the majority have no cure and will need to be managed with multidisciplinary pain management. The use of self-management strategies is important—including gentle daily exercise, relaxation and pacing techniques along with appropriate medication.