Arthritis Causes

Joint inflammation is the body's reaction to various disease processes. These include mechanical injury to a joint (including fracture), infection (usually caused by bacteria or viruses), an attack on the joints by the body's own immune system (a so-called autoimmune disease), or accumulated wear and tear on joints. Often, the inflammation goes away after the injury has healed, the disease is treated, or the infection has been cleared by the immune system, sometimes with the help of antibiotics. With some injuries and diseases, however, the inflammation does not go away, instead causing long term pain and deformity. This persistent, chronic, destructive and painful inflammation is arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common variety of arthritis in the United States. This arthritis often results from years of accumulated wear and tear on joints, and tends to occur in the elderly in hips, knees, and finger joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is also very common; it is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system starts attacking and destroying the tissues of the joints. Other autoimmune diseases that can cause arthritis include lupus and scleroderma. Gout, seen most often in males over 40 years old, is caused by the formation of crystals in the joints which then provoke inflammation.