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Using a walking stick or cane to assist with walking can help to control arthritis symptoms.

Using a walking stick or cane to assist with walking can help to control arthritis symptoms.
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Arthritis is a medical condition that damages the body’s joints, causing discomfort and pain. It can range from mild to severe, and can affect people of all ages. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are ways to manage the condition.

An overview of arthritis

Arthritis is not one disease alone, but an umbrella term for more than 100 conditions that affect the joints of the body. Joints are points where two or more bones meet, such as in the wrist, knuckles, hips, knees and ankles.

The three most common types of arthritis found in Australians are:

Other types of arthritis include:

Symptoms of arthritis

The symptoms of arthritis vary from person to person. But if you have arthritis, you will almost certainly have symptoms relating to your joints, such as:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • redness and heat
  • stiffness or reduced movement.

Some people also get other problems outside their joints. Other common symptoms include:

  • tiredness
  • weight loss
  • skin problems
  • feeling unwell.

Diagnosing arthritis

If you have any symptoms of arthritis, it is important you see your doctor to get a diagnosis and start treatment. Without treatment, the condition may get worse and cause long-term damage.

Some types of arthritis can be difficult to diagnose, so it may take a few visits and tests to get a definite diagnosis. Your doctor may also need to refer you to a rheumatologist, who specialises in conditions that affect the joints.

Treating arthritis

For many types of arthritis, there are treatments available that can help control symptoms and prevent damage to the joints.

The most appropriate treatment will depend on which type of arthritis you have, which joints are affected, and the symptoms you have.

Treatment might include:

  • medications, such as pain-killers, anti-inflammatory drugs or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (used for inflammatory forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis)
  • pain management techniques, such as meditation.

In severe cases, surgery may be needed to replace or repair damaged joints.

Living with arthritis

There are many things you can do to help manage arthritis so you can meet the demands of daily life.

Among the most important things are to:

Additional information about arthritis

For more information on arthritis, how to manage it, and to learn about the support available, you can contact Arthritis Australia on 1800 011 041.

Last reviewed: February 2017

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Up to two-thirds of people with arthritis say their condition has affected them emotionally. With careful management, symptoms of anxiety and depression can be treated along with those of arthritis.

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The Empowered site brings together a range of people living with arthritis so you can hear directly from them, their rheumatologists, general practitioners and allied health supporters on how they have managed to survive, and thrive, with arthritis. Through understanding their journey, we hope to empower yours.

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