There are hundreds of different types of arthritis and related conditions. With Osteoarthritis (OA), the joints show signs of wear and tear, as we get older. Osteoarthritis affects your cartilage, the protective tissue on the ends of your bones that allows them to move smoothly against one another at your joints. Imagine that cartilage is the sole at the end of your shoe. It wears away over time and becomes less of a shock absorber. This happens in our joints where the cartilage breaks down and your joint protection is reduced.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune problem where the body’s immune system breaks down and attacks it’s own joints. Whereas osteoarthritis usually begins in one joint, rheumatoid arthritis usually affects several joints at a time. You may find that arthritis symptoms include your joints becoming painful when you move, you may have joint swelling and restricted movement. With rheumatoid arthritis in particular, your joints may be hot to the touch. This may affect the way you walk and your day-to-day activities.
Most types of arthritis are caused by many factors acting together. According to Arthritis Research UK, you may naturally be more likely to develop certain disorders as a result of your genetic make-up. If there’s a history of arthritis in your family, it’s more likely that you will develop it.
Osteoarthritis is somewhat different, in that although science has not been able to reveal the exact cause of it, there are external factors such as previous injury of a particular joint or infection that could increase you’re susceptibility to the condition. As well as this, the sort of lifestyle that you lead can affect your joints. For example being overweight applies more pressure to your weight bearing joints such as your hips and knees, which can increase the risk of developing arthritis. A physically demanding job can increase your risk by your joints having to cope with daily heavy repetitive movement.