Arthritis is a condition in which inflamed joints cause pain and disability. There are more than 100 types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis, which usually affects the small joints in hands and feet. Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are in the same family of diseases but are not the same condition.
Joint pain, joint swelling, morning stiffness and redness around affected skin or joints are symptoms of both arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other symptoms of arthritis include reduced joint mobility and warmth around joints. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include fever, weight loss, fatigue, tender joints and firm bumps under the skin on arms.
Arthritis causes include wearing down of joints, infection, broken bones and autoimmune diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the membranes around joints.
Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are both diagnosed through a physical exam, blood tests, joint x-rays and removal of joint fluid.
Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are treated with exercises, heat and cold treatments and rest. Medicines used include acetaminophen, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, biologic agents such as Enbrel (etanercept) for inflammation, and immunosuppressant drugs. Treatment can also include occupational and physical therapy.
Complications of arthritis include chronic pain, disability or lifestyle limitations. Complications of rheumatoid arthritis include debilitating and disfiguring joint damage.