According to Arthritis New Zealand, arthritis affects more than 624,000 New Zealanders and is the greatest cause of disability in New Zealand. There are more than 140 recognised forms of arthritis, but the three most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout.
OsteoarthritisOsteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It usually affects the 50-plus age group, and is slightly more common in women than men. It involves the breakdown of the protective cushion of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones, where two bones meet to form a joint.
Read more about osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritisRheumatoid arthritis can start at any age but usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 55. Three times as many women than men are affected. If not properly treated, ongoing inflammation can progressively damage joints and cause joint deformities. As an autoimmune condition, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other systems of the body.
Read more about rheumatoid arthritis
GoutGout causes sudden attacks of pain in some joints. It can affect any joint but the first attack usually affects the big toe or another part of the foot. The joint becomes painful and swollen and the skin over the joint can become red and shiny. If not treated, gout can become chronic, causing damage to the joints and bones.
Read more about gout
While anyone can be affected by arthritis at any stage of life, there are five groups most at risk:
Other risk factors include:
Children can develop arthritis too. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a term used to describe arthritis in children. It has also been called juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA). Around 1 in 1000 is affected by juvenile arthritis. It is commonly diagnosed between ages 1 and 4 years, but can occur at any age.
You may have arthritis if you have:
If you have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, see your doctor.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of arthritis. It's important a correct diagnosis is made before beginning any treatment. Generally, for most types of arthritis, the treatment will include:
A variety of self care practices can help people control and reduce the effects of arthritis. These may include:
Research has shown that people who exercise regularly, practice relaxation and/or use other self care techniques have less pain and are more active than people who are not self-managers. Courses are designed to give you the skills needed to take a more active part in your arthritis care, together with a healthcare team.
Visit our self care programmes section to see if there is a course in your area.
Arthritis NZ Freephone 0800 663 463