Q: Lately, I’ve been feeling pain in my joints, especially in the morning, so I went to my doctor and he said it was arthritis. I realized after I left his office, I wasn’t exactly sure what arthritis is. Can you explain?

A: Arthritis is a swelling in the joints that causes pain and discomfort. It occurs when there is inflammation in one or more joints and can involve breakdown in cartilage. Cartilage protects the joints, so when there is limited cartilage, joints can become sore and inflamed causing swelling and pain.

The term “arthritis” is used generally to describe more than 100 types of rheumatic diseases and conditions affecting the joints. Rheumatic conditions are generally described pain and stiffness in the joints and can evolve gradually over time.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition that occurs when arthritis affects five or more joints. RA can take several different courses:  the condition can end within two to five years of initial diagnosis with only one episode occurring; RA activity levels can fluctuate over the course of the condition; or the condition can increase in pain and be constant.
  •  Osteoarthritis is commonly known as a joint disease and is the most common form of arthritis. It is defined by the symptoms of pain, swelling, and stiffness, and 12.4 million adults ages twenty-five and older, and is estimated to affect 26.9 million adults ages sixty-five and older.
  • Childhood Arthritis is an umbrella term to describe a few types of arthritis. There are many different cases and clinically differing definitions of childhood arthritis; however, the most common type of childhood arthritis is juvenile arthritis, which affect those sixteen years and younger.


Q: Does everyone get arthritis as they get older?

A: No. It is a common misconception that arthritis is strictly a disease of old age. Arthritis affects people of many ages, even infants and children. Arthritis is not necessarily normal aging pain; it can indicate a larger, more severe problem in the joints. In some cases, arthritis can cause debilitating pain and discomfort.

Q: What are some ways to help ease the pain of arthritis?

A: Overall, maintain a healthy lifestyle, beginning with your weight. Extra pounds put pressure on joints like your hips and knees. One way to keep the weight down is by exercising, which has additional benefits: exercise can increase your body strength and flexibility and reduce arthritic pain. Another health tip, eat plenty of food rich in omega 3-s including fish and walnuts because the fatty acids help reduce inflammation.

This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality private and home health care to Brevard County patients from Titusville to Barefoot Bay.

For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit