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Inflammatory arthritis is a group of diseases characterized by inflammation of the joints and often other tissues. These include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) among others. These inflammatory conditions are possibly autoimmune conditions. Osteoarthritis has a different cause and is considered a different disease. Its main features are degeneration of the articular cartilage or joint surface, leading to swelling and eventually changes in the bone under the joint surface. There is often some inflammation but this is not a main feature.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It commonly affects the knee, ankle, feet, thumb and fingers, and sometimes the shoulder and elbow. There are multiple risk factors, including obesity, genetics and trauma. Interestingly upper limb osteoarthritis can also be linked to obesity. We think this is due to the increase in circulating inflammatory chemicals from fat tissue. These can affect all joints.
The mainstays of treatment are exercise, medication, activity modification and sometimes surgery.