These include:

  • Degenerative disease (osteoarthritis)
  • Post traumatic arthritis
  • Spondyloarthritis (including Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis (Axial Spondyloarthritis), Reactive Arthritis, Enteropathic Arthritis)
  • Auto-immune or auto-inflammatory processes (rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis)
  • Crystal deposition (gout and pseudogout)
  • Infection (septic arthritis)
  • Idiopathic (juvenile idiopathic arthritis).

Systemic lupus erythematosus, Psoriasis, Lyme disease, reactive arthritis, and celiac disease are examples of diseases that can cause arthritis.


Arthritis is defined as a degenerative process of pain, stiffness, inflammation, and structural damage (deformation caused by the inflammation) to joint. It can exist as an acute or chronic condition with many variations to the condition.


Arthritis can refer to over 150 different conditions that affect the muscles, bones and joints.

Arthritic Joints

Mechanism of Injury / Pathological Process


Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down.


Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.

Gout, one of the most common forms of arthritis, occurs when uric acid crystals form when there’s too much uric acid in the blood. See image
Infections or underlying disease, such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis.


Clinical Presentation

Common symptoms of Arthritis are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling, redness and warmth in a joint
  • Muscular aches and pain
  • Stiffness or reduced movement of a joint
  • General symptoms such as fatigue and feeling unwell.
swollen foot

Risk factors

  • Being overweight increases the strain on your joints
  • Age also increases the risk as the cartilage within the joints cannot repair itself as well and becomes more brittle
  • Working in a physically demanding job or playing high-level sport (particularly running or breaststroke swimming)
  • Previous injury or infection to your joints

Diagnostic Procedures

Most patients will be seen by their GP, rheumatologist or pain specialist who will carry out a series of test to diagnose which arthritis is present.


This will include:

  • Medical history – finding out about symptoms, family history, other health problems in the past.
  • Physical examination – look for redness and swelling in and around the joint and check out the range of movement of your joints. Depending on the type of arthritis also look for rashes, check your eyes and throat and measure your temperature.
  • Scans and other tests – again, depending on the type of arthritis test may include: blood tests to check for levels of inflammation in blood or specific genetic markers; x-rays; ultrasound; CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Referral to a specialist – if appropriate your doctor will refer you to a specialist, often a rheumatologist, for diagnosis and specialised management of your condition


Management / Interventions

A person suffering with arthritis can have different symptoms from person to person and these symptoms can vary from day to day. Treatment and management options vary with the type of arthritis, its severity and the parts of the body affected.



Unfortunately there is no cure for arthritis, however there are options to manage your pain with interventions such as medical treatment and medication, physiotherapy, exercise and self-management techniques.



Osteopaths and physiotherapist are health professionals that can help with the management of arthritis. They are trained in Physical therapy and licensed in rehabilitation techniques. They help patients restore function and prevent disability for people affected by arthritis. They can also design exercise programs to help reduce pain and improve the functioning of the joint and MSK areas affected by arthritis.

Arthritis in woman's hands


A number of different types of medication treat arthritis:

  • Analgesics, such as acetaminophen and opioids, are effective for pain management, but don’t help decrease inflammation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and salicylates, help control pain and inflammation. Salicylates can thin the blood, so they should be used very cautiously with additional blood thinning medications.
  • Menthol or capsaicin creams block the transmission of pain signals from your joints.
  • Immunosuppressants like prednisone or cortisone help reduce inflammation.



If you have RA, your doctor may put you on corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which suppress your immune system. There are also many medications to treat OA available over the counter or by prescription.