Is Arthritis a Disease?



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There have always been questions surrounding arthritis and whether it is officially a disease or a condition.

The word arthritis itself simply means joint inflammation but in the context it is used most commonly in the medical world, it is used to refer to 200 different rheumatic diseases and conditions, all of which effect the joins and tissues surroundings the joints, as well as other connective tissues.

Rheumatic disease doesn’t only refer to arthritic conditions, it also refers to other rheumatic conditions such as osteoporosis and systemic connective tissue conditions. Other types of arthritis including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can affect many different organs in the body and it can make everyday tasks and your usual lifestyle difficult.

Arthritis is almost always considered a disease and with this status there is a range of treatment available. Arthritis is believed to effect at least 10 million people around the UK and it affects people of all ages, although is most common in people aged 50 and over.

The two most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects over 400,000 people in the UK. It is usually diagnosed in people aged between 40 and 50 years old and it is a condition which is found more commonly in women than in men, as many as three times more women have the condition.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system specifically targets the affected joints, resulting in pain and swelling. The outer layer and lining of the joint is affected first and then this can spread across the joint and in some instances it causes the bone and cartilage to break down.


Osteoarthritis is a much more common form of the disease. It effects around 8,000,000 in the UK and it usually developed in adults who are in the late 40s or older. It is also more common in women and also in people who have a family history of it. It can occur at any age and it is also sometimes caused by injuries and other joint-related conditions.

Osteoarthritis begins by affecting the joint’s smooth cartilage lining and then developing into chronic pain and stiffness. The most commonly affected areas of the body are in the hands, knees, hips and spine.

Arthritis is almost always considered a disease but you will hear doctors and medical professionals refer to it as a condition and they may also use the term ‘arthritic conditions’ for other related issues.

Questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you have any questions about Rheumatoid Arthritis please contact Dr Stephanie Barrett.