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. Arthritis is the second most common cause of forced retirement due to ill health in Australia.
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 ongoing chronic pain can be managed with multidisciplinary pain management. The use of supported self-management strategies is important—including education about pain, gentle daily exercise, relaxation and pacing techniques along with appropriate medication.