Inflammation and pain in the joints

By Brandie Umar, Executive Director of ContentLast modified: October 03, 2011


Arthritis is the common name for a group of medical conditions that cause inflammation in the joints. Although there are over 100 types of arthritic conditions, the most diagnosed forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Gout, a disease commonly associated with excess alcohol consumption, is actually a type of arthritis.



Osteoarthritis, also known as progressive or degenerative arthritis, is a form of arthritis caused by 'wear and tear' of the joints and can develop at any age. Overuse of any joints can cause osteoarthritis to develop.

Degenerative arthritis caused by the cartilage in between joints breaking down, cartilage becomes damaged, there is nothing to protect the bones in the joint and the bones rub together as the joints move. It is the bones connecting with each other instead of being cushioned that causes the arthritic pain. As the bones move against one another, it is sometimes possible to hear a creaking, or cracking sound in the joints. Osteoarthritis is not always symptomatic with inflammation - joint pain or loss of movement are more common symptoms of this degenerative joint condition.


Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the type of arthritis most commonly linked to inflammation in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by overuse of the joints as osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means the body's immune system attacks cells in the body and destroys the cells - in this case the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease meaning the symptoms and inflammation worsen over time. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause serious joint problems and immobility that requires orthopedic surgery to correct, however in most cases rheumatoid arthritis can be controlled using anti-inflammatory drugs. 



Gout is a condition caused by an excess of uric acid in the body that causes small crystals of urate (salt) to be deposited in tissue. As these crystals collect in the joints, they cause painful inflammation or gouty arthritis. If gout is untreated, or is not controlled by a change in diet, alcohol intake and moderating blood pressure, larger deposits of urate develop in the joints and cause joint damage that can require total joint replacement surgery. Gout symptoms usually develop first in the toes, although arthritis linked to gout can effect the ankles, elbows, wrists and knees as well as other weight bearing joints. 


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