Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

What causes arthritis?

The cause of arthritis is not fully known. It is thought that some people who are genetically predisposed develop the disease after they are exposed to environmental triggers. Other forms of arthritis can be caused by problems with the immune system or by a metabolic condition, such as gout.

Environmental factors that may contribute to the development of osteoarthritis include:

  • obesity, which puts added strain on joints
  • activities that involve repetitive movements of a particular joint, or
  • previous damage to a joint, such as from a sports injury.

People with a family history of osteoarthritis seem to be more prone to developing the condition, although the reason why has not been fully established.

Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be caused by a fault in the immune system that causes the body to attack its own tissues in the joints. This may be inherited genetically.

Arthritis caused by an infection is called 'reactive arthritis'. It's very difficult to diagnose and can develop at any age, but is more commonly seen in younger people. Reactive arthritis can last between a few weeks and 6 months.

Last reviewed: July 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 947 results

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes pain and inflammation of the joints. Other parts of the body can also be affected. Inflammation causes the joints to become painful, hot and swollen and movement to be restricted.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Rheumatoid arthritis - Lab Tests Online AU

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that affects thejoints.The hand and wrists are most commonly affected but also elbows, neck, shoulders, hips, knees, feet and jaw. RA causes swelling, stiffness, pain and loss of function in the joints. Other symptoms include fatigue, fever and a sense of not feeling well (malaise). Some people with RA develop anaemia. It also increases the risk of thinning of the bones -osteoporosis, particularly if someone is taking corticosteroid drugs such as prednisone. The disease can affect other bodily organs as well and cause dry eyes and mouth - symptoms of Sjgrens syndrome.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Reactive arthritis

This sheet has been written for people affected by reactive arthritis. It provides general information to help you understand how you may be affected. This sheet also covers how reactive arthritis usually resolves over time

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Musculoskeletal conditions - arthritis and osteoporosis and back pain

Musculoskeletal conditions, of which arthritis and osteoporosis are most common, are one of the major causes of chronic pain and disability in Australia.

Read more on Department of Health website

Rheumatoid Arthritis (Arabic)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (Arabic)

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Rheumatoid arthritis (Vietnamese)

Rheumatoid arthritis (Vietnamese)

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Rheumatoid arthritis (Greek)

Rheumatoid arthritis (Greek)

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Rheumatoid arthritis (Chinese)

Rheumatoid arthritis (Chinese)

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Rheumatoid arthritis

This sheet has been written for people affected by rheumatoid arthritis. It provides general information to help you understand how you may be affected and why early treatment is important. This sheet also covers what you can do to manage rheumatoid arthritis and where to go for further information.

Read more on Arthritis Australia website

Arthritis in Childhood

Online videos and DVD's of the personal stories and patient experiences of children with arthritis.

Read more on RealTime Health website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback