Arthritis affects millions of people of all ages, including children (1 in every 250 children in the United States each year). From 2010-2012, nearly 50% of adults 65 years or older in the U.S. were told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis in their joints. Although osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease, there are over 100 different types of arthritis including gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. 
What is Arthritis?
Although very common, arthritis is not well understood. Arthritis is an informal way of describing pain due to inflammation of one or more of your joints. Although most common among women and the elderly, arthritis can affect anyone regardless of race, sex or age. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. 
Symptoms might include decreased range of motion, pain, stiffness and swelling. These symptoms can be frequent or infrequent and range from mild to severe. Arthritis symptoms can last for a number of years and even worsen over time.
Common Types of Arthritis
Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis) 
As cartilage wears away, bone begins to rub against bone. This can cause pain, swelling and stiffness. Risk Factors include weight gain, excessive weight, family history, previous injury, and old age.
Inflammatory Arthritis 
Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis are two examples of inflammatory arthritis. When the immune system mistakenly attacks a joint, inflammation and joint erosion develop which may lead to complications with internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Smoking is a strong risk factor.
Infectious Arthritis 
This unique type of inflammatory arthritis is caused when bacteria, virus or fungus enter the joint and triggering inflammation. Food poisoning, some sexually transmitted diseases, and Hepatitis C can cause Infectious Arthritis.
Metabolic Arthritis 
Uric acid is commonly formed in the body to break down purines, found in cells and foods. Having excessive levels of uric acid can cause needle-like crystals in the join, which can result in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain or gout.
Arthritis Symptoms Checklist
Arthritis.com provides a symptom checklist to help you and your doctor determine if arthritis could be the cause of your symptoms. Visit: arthritis.com/arthritis_symptoms_checklist
What can I do to manage arthritis? 
Ways to help manage arthritis include staying moderately active (strengthening muscles around your joints) with rest between activities, hot and cold therapies, eating a healthy balance diet, maintaining a healthy weight, improving sleep habits, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. If you think a medication is causing painful side effects in your joints make sure you discuss it with a professional.
When Should I See A Doctor? 
If joint pain persists, going to the doctor for a diagnosis and getting treatment is recommended. Many people can develop significant joint and other serious issues if arthritis is not treated over an extended period of time. Visiting your doctor may also help determine whether you have other diseases similar to arthritis such as:
Lyme Disease, which not only gives you Arthritis but may in fact cause heart, brain, and nerve problems. 
Lupus, which does not cause erosive, deforming arthritis. Symptoms rather tend to be milder overall. 
Reiter’s Syndrome, also known as reactive arthritis. It can last from three months to a year, in cases, longer. 
Reactive arthritis, which affects a few larger joints usually only on one side of the body. Inflammation of tendons, ligaments and muscles can happen as well. This can cause inflammation of other parts of the body such as eyes, head, skin, and mouth. 
Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition in the muscles and soft tissue. 
Pseudogout, a sudden with swelling and intense pain most common in the knees (flares can last for weeks or months). 
Chikungunya, a virus spread by mosquitoes. One can experience high fever, joint pain, and rashes. Though the rash lasts up to 10 days, joint pain can last up to a year or more. 
Still’s Disease, which starts with a salmon-colored rash, high fever, joint pain can occurring after weeks of the initial symptoms. In those younger than 16, it is called Systemic-onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. This can appear in both adults and children. 
Arthritis is a disease that affects millions but with the right treatment, plenty of rest and a balanced diet, arthritis doesn’t have to ruin plans or stop you from doing what you want to do. Going to your doctor and diagnosing arthritis early can limit damage and give you many years of happy, healthy activity.