Arthritis occurs when the joints become inflamed. The inflammation may be caused by wearing away of the bursa that cushions bones or when the immune system attacks the membrane that surrounds the joint. A family history of arthritis increases the risk of developing the condition, along with age, obesity and being female. People who have experienced a previous joint injury are also at increased risk.
The symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness and swelling, along with decreased range of motion. The skin often becomes reddened at the affected joint. Depending upon the underlying cause of the arthritis, patients may experience symptoms throughout the day or they may be worse in the morning upon rising. It's essential that patients obtain a diagnosis, as many of the symptoms can mimic other illnesses.
The symptoms of arthritis may flare and subside in the early stages and may not appear on x-rays and similar diagnostic tests until it has progressed. Inflammation can place pressure on the nerves, resulting in a sensation of burning, tingling or numbness. Posture may be affected, along with the ability to straighten fingers or limbs. Patients may experience difficulty eating and sleeping, pleurisy and general feeling of malaise.