Arthritis can arise in many forms and can affect everyone – including children and adolescents. While the most commonly known form, osteoarthritis, is a degenerative disease that progresses as we age, many forms of inflammatory arthritis can affect people at any age.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), happens when cartilage is worn down over time, usually from a lifetime of use or as the result of an injury to the joint. As the normally smooth surface of the cartilage is destroyed, exposing the underlying bone, the joint becomes more painful to move and the range of motion may diminish. This type of arthritis usually involves one or more large weight-bearing joints such as a hip or a knee. With this type of arthritis, pain is usually made worse with activity and is better with rest. It is common for symptoms to be at their worst at the end of the day.

This form of arthritis is usually treated with anti-inflammatory medications taken orally as a pill or as an injected form, and can also be relieved with physical therapy, exercise, and proper nutrition. Joint replacement surgery is considered when conservative, non-surgical methods have failed to provide adequate benefit. Hip replacement surgery and knee replacement surgery have become trusted treatments for restoring mobility and easing pain.

Video: What is Arthritis?

Thomas P. Sculco, MD explains what arthritis is, what causes it, and how it can be avoided, diagnosed, and treated. This is Part 1 of a series on total hip replacement surgery. The rest of this video series can be found here.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Less frequent but often more serious are the inflammatory forms of arthritis, which include conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. These forms usually involve many joints throughout the body at the same time and are caused by a problem with the immune system becoming over-active, resulting in joint inflammation. Arthritis caused by inflammation often results in pain and stiffness after periods of rest or inactivity, particularly in the morning. Swelling, redness and warmth may be present in the affected joints. Other areas in the body can be affected by the inflammation as well, including the skin and internal organs such as the lungs and heart.

Inflammatory arthritis is usually treated with a combination of medications to relieve swelling and pain while regulating the immune system. As with osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery should also be considered when these non-surgical methods have failed to provide lasting benefit.

When detected and treated early, arthritis can be halted in its tracks. The HSS Inflammatory Arthritis Center connects patients quickly and efficiently with a rheumatologist who can evaluate their joint pain and get each patient started on an appropriate course of treatment. Hospital for Special Surgery also offers specialized patient education and support programs for conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

WEBINAR: Understanding Arthritis-related Clinical Research

This webinar presents an overview of the clinical research process, the phases of a clinical trial, and insight into the importance of medical research in patient care.
Presenter: Jessica Gordon, MD, MSc
Date Recorded: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Watch Now

To learn more about arthritis, access the articles, audio clips, and video programs in the categories listed below.

see also Osteoarthritis
see also Rheumatoid Arthritis

see also Arthritis - Elbow
see also Arthritis - Foot & Ankle
see also Arthritis - Hand & Wrist
see also Arthritis - Hip
see also Arthritis - Knee
see also Arthritis - Shoulder
see also Arthritis - Thumb

Back in the Game Patient Stories

Treating Physicians

Michael M. Alexiades, MDMichael M. Alexiades, MD
Orthopedic Surgery, Hip and Knee Replacement
Robert L. Buly, MDRobert L. Buly, MD
Orthopedic Surgery, Hip and Knee Replacement, Hip Preservation
Edward C. Jones, MD, MAEdward C. Jones, MD, MA
Orthopedic Surgery
Thomas P. Sculco, MDThomas P. Sculco, MD
Orthopedic Surgery, Hip and Knee Replacement

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