Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It’s estimated that over 10 million people of all ages within the UK suffer from some form of arthritis.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, affecting around 8 million people. In the majority of cases, osteoarthritis develops in people over 50 years of age, although it can develop at any age from a joint-related injury or medical condition. Osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joints, causing stiffness, which makes everyday movements difficult and often very painful. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between the bones gradually erodes, often causing the joints in the sufferer’s hands, spine, knees and hips to rub together.
In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis affects over 400,000 people and much like osteoarthritis, it often develops in people who are between 40 and 50 years of age. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men and unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling. Initially, the outer covering of the joint is affected but the condition can then spread across the joint, leading to further swelling and an altering of the shape of the joint, which causes both the bone and cartilage to break down.