Arthritis is a group of conditions that typically involve inflammation and pain in the joints.

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What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a group of conditions that typically involve inflammation and pain in the joints. Arthritis typically develops where two or more bones meet, although it can affect other tissues in the body. Arthritis can lead to joint weakness and physical deformities that can interfere with even the most basic daily activities. Arthritis pain varies considerably in severity. It may come and go, which is called episodic pain, or it may be chronic, meaning you'll feel it all the time.

How Does Arthritis Develop?
In healthy joints, the ends of the bones are protected by cartilage, which is a tough, smooth tissue that cushions the ends and allows them to glide smoothly across one another. The whole joint is surrounded by synovial fluid, which lubricates and delivers nutrients to the cartilage. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, develops when the cartilage wears away and the bone ends are left unprotected. They may rub together every time you move, which can cause pain. The edges of the joints may also develop dense spots and bumps called spurs. The ligaments, which are cord-like tissues that connect the bones to other structures around them, may also thicken, preventing movement.

Numerous other types of arthritis are the result of inflammation in the body, or chemical processes going awry. Inflammation is part of the body's natural healing process. But once the inflammatory process starts and doesn't stop, cartilage and other tissues surrounding and connecting your bones arcan be attacked. This leads to swelling, throbbing pain and sometimes deformities. Joint disease is often part of other more widespread diseases, as well.

Arthritis. Bethesda, MD.: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 2009. (Accessed November 11, 2009 at

Arthritis Foundation. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation, 2009. (Accessed November 11, 2009 at

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