Inflammation of one or more joints, with pain, swelling, and stiffness. There are several different types of arthritis, each having different characteristics. The most common form is osteoarthritis, which most often involves the knees, hips, and hands and usually affects middle-aged and older people. Cervical osteoarthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the joints in the neck. Rheumatoid arthritis is a damaging condition that causes inflammation in the joints and other body tissues such as the membranous heart covering, lungs, and eyes. The disorder has different effects in children (see juvenile chronic arthritis). Ankylosing spondylitis is another persistent form of arthritis that initially affects the spine and the joints between the base of the spine and the pelvis. Other tissues, such as the eyes, may also be affected. Eventually, the disorder may cause the vertebrae (bones of the spine) to fuse. Reactive arthritis typically develops in susceptible people following an infection, most commonly of the genital tract or intestines. Gout and pseudogout are types of arthritis in which crystals are deposited in a joint, causing swelling and pain. Septic arthritis is a relatively rare condition that can develop when infection enters a joint either through a wound or from the bloodstream. Diagnosis of particular types of arthritis is made from blood tests and, in some cases, microscopic examination of fluid from the affected joint. X-rays or MRI can indicate the type and extent of joint damage. Physiotherapy and exercises can help to minimize the effects of arthritis, and there are specific treatments for some types, such as antibiotic drugs for septic arthritis. In severe cases, one or more joints may need arthroplasty (replacement with an artificial substitute) or arthrodesis (fusion of the bones).


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