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What Causes Inflammatory Arthritis?

  • Arthritis is defined as the inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain and frequently, changes in structure. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the erosion or destruction of articular cartilage and overgrowth of bone resulting in impaired function.
  • Genetics, weight, occupation, illness or infection are some causes of arthritis.


Millions of Americans suffer each year from arthritis of some type. Arthritis is defined as the inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain and frequently, changes in structure. Arthritis can be caused by many different factors and have many symptoms as well. Osteorarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis and is defined as a chronic disease involving the joints, especially the weight bearing joints. The prefix osteo means combining form indicating relationship to a bone and arthron means joint and the suffix, itis, means inflammation. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the erosion or destruction of articular cartilage and overgrowth of bone resulting in impaired function. This erosion occurs when cartilage and synovial fluid (the lubricating fluid between joints) decreases or becomes less than 100% efficient. The bones rub together instead of being protected by cartilage and synovial fluid, causing friction and pain. This rubbing will cause swelling as well, which results in more pressured rubbing and friction. Osteoarthritis more often affects weight bearing joints, because of the increased use and pressure on these joints.

Genetics can play a part in arthritis. There is some belief that inherited tendencies play a role in how strong your joint is and how much cartilage your body makes to cushion the bones. Oftentimes age can be a big cause of arthritis. Even though in some cases children and young adults are affected, the highest percentage of sufferers are senior citizens. As we age, we wear away cartilage in the joints. The wearing away of cartilage can be accelerated if you perform excessive amounts of physical activity or have a job that includes a lot of manual labor. Cartilage grows less flexible and does not repair as fast or as efficiently as we grow older. The condition can be made far worse due to poor nutrition and exposure to damaging free radicals that wreak havoc on the cells.

Your body weight can play a strong role in whether you may get arthritis or, if you already have it, how severe the symptoms may become. Additional weight, even ten pounds, may have an affect on the joints by having to bear this extra weight causing them to wear out much faster. If you are very overweight or obese, your joints may degrade significantly faster, especially the knee and hip joints, because they carry the bulk of your weight.

Some occupations may put you at risk for arthritis as well, such as a heavy construction laborer, professional weightlifter or bodybuilder, or an athlete. Some sports which are high impact and very hard on the body, like football and hockey, can result in joint injury, which may end up as arthritis later. When a joint is repeatedly injured or hit, it can cause a change in the joint texture, leading to cartilage loss, causing inflammation and then pressure rubbing and friction result and the cycle repeats.


Another causative factor for arthritis is when illness or infection attacks the joint. If an infection gets into the joint, called a septic joint, it can cause damage that will likely result in arthritis. The same is true of gout or other medical conditions that attack the joint and wear down the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis is another well known type and it is considered an auto-immune disease. This arthritis is caused by your own body’s response to what it considers to be a foreign invader. Your immune system remains in attack mode and ends up breaking down cartilage and synovial fluid. This causes the cartilage and surrounding tissue to break down and resulting in a severe form of inflammatory arthritis. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, the disease can also affect other body parts, including your muscles, eyes, heart, and lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis is also considered to be a chronic illness and people who are afflicted can go for long time periods without symptoms. Some signs and symptoms include fatigue, low grade fever, muscle stiffness and aches, joint stiffness and aches,and loss of appetite. Symptoms can come and go as this may depend on the severity of tissue inflammation. When inflammation is present, the arthritis is active. When the inflammation is not present, or has subsided, the disease is inactive or in remission. Remissions can happen spontaneously and without treatment. Duration of remission varies and can be as long as weeks, months or even years. Anytime the disease becomes active again, the symptoms appear and the disease is relapsing. The course of this disease varies with each person and flare ups and remissions are typical.

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The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

One Response to “What Causes Inflammatory Arthritis?”

  1. 1
    Sirius Says:
    Oh, I have arthritis in my knees and it gets really bad a lot of the time. Thanks for letting me know the causes of it!