arthritis, painful inflammation of a joint or joints of the body, usually producing heat and redness. There are many kinds of arthritis. In its various forms, arthritis disables more people than any other chronic disorder. The condition can be brought about by nerve impairment, increased or decreased function of the endocrine glands, or degeneration due to age. Less frequently, it is caused by infection (tuberculosis, gonorrhea, Lyme disease, rheumatic fever).

Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease of unknown cause, is the most crippling form. Women are much more susceptible to it than men. Although rheumatoid arthritis usually appears between the ages of 25 and 50, it also occurs in children. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, occurs usually in people over 50. It tends to be more severe when the joints have been strained by obesity or overwork. Gout, the third most common form of arthritis, affects men almost exclusively.

Symptomatic treatment for arthritis includes use of heat, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as a cox-2 inhibitor (Celebrex), aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Remission of symptoms can sometimes be achieved with methotrexate, gold salts, penicillamine, and short-term cortisone, but they often have undesirable side effects. Orthopedic surgery, including artificial joint implantation, may be done in severe cases.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Arthritis: Selected full-text books and articles

Treating Arthritis: Medicine, Myth, and Magic By Félix Fernández-Madrid Insight Books, 1989
Handbook of Pain Syndromes: Biopsychosocial Perspectives By Andrew R. Block; Edwin F. Kremer; Ephrem Fernandez Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "Pain in Patients with Rheumatic Disease"
Over 55: A Handbook on Health By Theodore G. Duncan; Joyce Richman Franklin Institute Press, 1982
Librarian's tip: "Arthritis" begins on p. 1
The Body in Everyday Life By Sarah Nettleton; Jonathan Watson Routledge, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "Falling out with My Shadow: Lay Perceptions of the Body in the Context of Arthritis"
Technology and Methods in Behavioral Medicine By David S. Krantz; Andrew Baum Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "Self-Report Measures in the Assessment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, with an Emphasis on Ecological Validity"
Human Trials: Scientists, Investors, and Patients in the Quest for a Cure By Susan Quinn Perseus Publishing, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 13 "The Rheumatologists"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.