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Regenerative Institute

Arthritis Q & A

The word arthritis is used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints. Arthritis isn’t a single condition and there are several different types. Although there’s no cure for arthritis, treatments have improved greatly in recent years and, for many types of arthritis, particularly inflammatory arthritis, there’s a clear benefit in starting treatment at an early stage.


Causes of Arthritis

As mentioned earlier, there is no single cause of all types of arthritis. The cause or causes vary according to the type or form of arthritis.

Possible causes may include:

  • injury, leading to degenerative arthritis
  • abnormal metabolism, leading to gout and pseudogout
  • inheritance, such as in osteoarthritis
  • infections, such as in the arthritis of Lyme disease
  • immune system dysfunction, such as in RA and SLE

Most types of arthritis are linked to a combination of factors, but some have no obvious cause and appear to be unpredictable in their emergence. Some people may be genetically more likely to develop certain arthritic conditions. Additional factors, such as previous injury, infection, smoking and physically demanding occupations, can interact with genes to further increase the risk of arthritis.


Diet and nutrition can play a role in managing arthritis and the risk of arthritis, although specific foods, food sensitivities or intolerances are not known to cause arthritis. Foods that increase inflammation, particularly animal-derived foods and diets high in refined sugar, can make symptoms worse, as can eating foods that provoke an immune system response.


Gout is one type of arthritis that is closely linked to diet, as it is caused by elevated levels of uric acid which can be a result of a diet high in purines. Diets that contain high-purine foods, such as seafood, red wine, and meats, can trigger a gout flare-up. Vegetables and other plant foods that contain high levels of purines do not appear to exacerbate gout symptoms, however.


Symptoms of Arthritis

The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:

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

Types of Arthritis

There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in the US. OA is often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis patients are mostly affected in the hands, hips and knees, experiencing pain, aching, stiffness, decreased range of motion and swelling.