There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis, with many different possible causes. In a 2006 CDC survey of 30,000 U.S. adults, 20% reported having been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. The survey also showed that arthritis was more common in overweight people. Eight percent reported some sort of limitation in movement because of arthritis.

In general, arthritis usually involves pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. The following guide is about the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis. People with this type lose cartilage, the tissue that protects the joints.

The steps below will supplement the information from your doctor and help you manage this challenging condition.

I. The Basics
Step 1: What is osteoarthritis?
Step 2: Symptoms
Step 3: Causes
Step 4: How osteoarthritis is diagnosed
II. Treating Osteoarthritis
Step 5: Overview of arthritis treatment
Step 6: Heat and cold therapy
Step 7: Pain medication
Step 8: Other options
Step 9: Unproven remedies
III. Managing Osteoarthritis
Step 10: Weight control and exercise
Step 11: Living with osteoarthritis

Learn More

Drug treatment - Cox-2 inhibitors

Drug treatment - injectible corticosteroids

Drug treatment - injectable hyaluronic acid


Rheumatoid arthritis

Helpful Handouts

Personal journal


Choi H. Gout. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2006 May;32(2).

de Vries-Bouwstra JK. Biologics in early rheumatoid arthritis. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2005 Nov;31(4):754-756.

Gislason GH, et al. Risk of death or reinfarction associated with the use of selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors and nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs after acute myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2006 June 27;113:2906-2913.

Gorlsine RT. The use of NSAIDs and nutritional supplements in athletes with osteoarthritis: prevalence, benefits, and consequences. Clin Sports Med. 2005 Jan;24(1):71-82.

Harris: Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 7th ed. St. Louis, Mo.W.B.Saunders;2005.

Hochman JS and Shah NR. What Price Pain Relief? Circulation. 2006 Jun 27;113:2868-2870.

Quinn MA. Potential for altering rheumatoid arthritis outcome. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2005 Nov;31(4):763-772.

Rindfleisch JA. Diagnosis and management of rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Sep 15;72(6):1027-1047.

Savage C. New therapeutics in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2006 Feb;31(1):57-74.

Sokka T. Conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in early arthritis. Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2005 Nov;31(4);729-744.

Vital EM. Advances in the treatment of early rheumatoid arthritis. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Sep;72(6):1002, 1004.

Wu CW. New developments in osteoarthritis. Clin Geriatr Med. 2005 Aug;21(3):589-601.


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Review Date: 11/22/2006

Reviewed By: Alan Greene, M.D., F.A.A.P., Stanford University School of Medicine; Chief Medical Officer, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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