What is Arthritis?
When someone says they have arthritis, they are usually referring to a problem with their joints. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including:
There are many different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatments. This resource will provide you with
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that usually causes the tissue in the joints to break down over time.
Information and tips for living with osteoarthritis (OA). This is the most common type of arthritis and is more common in older adults.
Osteoarthritis can cause pain, but there are ways to make you feel better. By learning about osteoarthritis and participating in your healthcare, you'll know how to manage your symptoms so you can maintain an active lifestyle.
For more information on osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis, go to the NIAMS Health Topics page .
What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis may make you feel:
- Pain when using the joint.
- Joint stiffness, usually less than 30 minutes.
- Swelling in and around the joint.
- The ability to move the joint changes.
- Joint laxity or instability.
It can also be helpful to learn as much as possible about osteoarthritis from reliable sources. Some people find that taking a class or talking to a community health worker to learn about osteoarthritis and how to manage symptoms helps you maintain an active lifestyle.
A list of organisations to contact can be found in the Additional Resources section.
Here are some other tips that may help:
- Try hot and cold therapy for joint pain relief. Heat therapy improves blood flow. Cold therapy can numb the nerves around painful joints and help relieve swelling.
- Use crutches or a walker if needed. Crutches or walkers help with safety while walking, provide stability and reduce pain.
- If you have arthritis in your hand, use an appliance (such as a lid opener) to help you grasp things.
- Try to avoid repetitive movements, such as frequent bending over.
- Insoles or braces help support the joint and help reduce pain and pressure in the affected area. This may help you stand or walk.
- Exercise is important for maintaining or improving your daily living skills. Remember to ask your doctor before starting any new exercise, and do it slowly. You may need some time to get used to the new activity. Some exercise options may include:
- Live lessons or video lessons for low-impact cardio.
- Exercises that strengthen your balance, such as tai chi or yoga.
- Strengthen the muscles with weights or an elastic band.
- Swimming or water aerobics.
NIH/NIAMS Funded Research
The National Institutes of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), funded the work of scientists to identify the causes of osteoarthritis and other forms of arthritis and the best treatments.
Researchers are studying the following questions:
- Risk factors for different types of arthritis.
- Treatment options and how to prevent these diseases, as well as different tests for these diseases.
- A test that helps doctors take a closer look at the joint.
In addition, the researchers will continue to:
- Study how genes related to bones and joints are affected by our surroundings.
- Finding new measures to understand what's going on in the body could help researchers understand how different types of arthritis develop and progress.
- To study whether weight loss and exercise can help manage symptoms and outcomes of knee arthritis.
- To compare the effects of different factors on pain relief in patients with arthritis.
Clinical trials: you can do your part!
A clinical trial is a type of research trial that requires volunteers to participate. Most clinical trials test new treatments for health problems, such as new drugs or diets. Clinical trials can help doctors understand whether new treatments are better, the same, or worse than standard treatments. Other clinical trials test ways to prevent disease or to detect disease early.
Ask your doctor if clinical trials are right for you. By volunteering for clinical trials, you can help doctors and researchers learn more about arthritis.
And while you're in a study, you may have the opportunity to receive the latest treatments and additional medical care from clinical trial staff.
To learn more about the basics of participating in a clinical trial, visit the English website NIH Clinical Research Trials and You.
On the website you will find:
- Information about risks and potential benefits.
- First-hand experience of clinical trial volunteers.
- Instructions for researchers.
Instructions on how to find clinical trials at the NIH or elsewhere in the US
To hear the experiences of participants in clinical trials led by NIAMS researchers, watch the video in English .
Where can I find more information about arthritis?
Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
National Institutes of Health
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Phone: 301-495-4484 Toll
Free: 877-22-NIAMS (877-226-4267)
Hearing Impaired Line (TTY): 301-565-2966
Fax : 301-718-6366
For more information on resources in your language or in other languages, go to our website or contact the NIAMS Information Center.
Food and Drug Administration
Toll Free: 888-INFO-FDA (888-463-6332)
Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Institute on Aging
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website
American College of Rheumatology website
Physical Therapy Association