The term arthritis covers over 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, in particular joints where two or more bones meet. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage and surrounding structures. Basic daily tasks such as walking and driving a car can be a problem for sufferers, as arthritis can result in joint weakness, instability and deformities.
Arthritis is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, and as the population ages, the number of arthritis sufferers increases.
Although many believe that arthritis goes hand in hand with old age, there are many people of working age who also suffer from it.
About 95% of cases in Australia are caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
Whilst there is not yet a cure for arthritis, it is usually manageable, and early intervention helps.
The most common forms of arthritis are