Arthritis Society Canada estimates that 20% of all Canadians aged 15+ are living with arthritis. September is Arthritis Awareness Month and in an effort to raise awareness about the common condition, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about arthritis.

Arthritis: What is it?

Source: Mayo Clinic

Arthritis is a swelling or inflammation of one or more joints. There are over 100 conditions which affect the joints and joint tissues, however there are two main types of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) is simply caused by wear, tear and time. OA is most common in those over the age of 50.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or inflammatory arthritis (IA) is associated with autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is when a body’s immune system attacks itself by mistake, in a misguided effort to protect it. This causes pain and inflammation.

Differences between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis 

Beyond their unique causes, the two branches of this condition have several distinct differences. 

  Rheumatoid Osteoarthritis
Onset age Any age Older (usually 50+)
Speed Rapid onset (weeks-months) Develops over years
Joint symptoms Swollen and stiff joints Aching tender joints
Full body symptoms Fatigue and feeling unwell on a frequent basis  Not present in OA
Episodes of stiffness Can last 1 hour+ Most prevalent in the morning and at night 

What are the symptoms of arthritis? 

While symptoms of arthritis vary from person to person, the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

What causes arthritis? 

The exact cause of RA is not known, however as a rule both OA and RA can be attributed to lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors:

  • wear and tear of a joint from overuse
  • age (OA is most common in adults over age 50)
  • injuries
  • obesity
  • autoimmune disorders
  • genes or family history
  • muscle weakness

X Rays and MRIs are able to diagnose the condition, however the pain and symptoms are often enough to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments.

Living with arthritis: what can you do about it?

While there is not currently a cure for arthritis, there are preventative and coping measures including certain lifestyle changes, and both medicinal and natural remedies. For advice on how to manage your arthritis symptoms, consult your doctor. You can also ask your pharmacist for general advice. 

Medical interventions and products such as arthritis gloves and wrist braces are available at Lakeside Medicine Centre Pharmacy and are growing in popularity.

Looking for more information? Give us a call or chat with our staff during your next visit to the pharmacy.