Arthritis: Paul's story

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation of the joints and bones. Paul Casimir has been living with arthritis for half his life, but he doesn't let it stop him doing the things he enjoys.

Types of arthritis

As well as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, there are many other types of arthritis including:

  • ankylosing spondylitis – a long-term condition that affects the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the spine
  • cervical spondylitis – also known as degenerative osteoarthritis, cervical spondylitis affects the joints and bones in the neck
  • fibromyalgia – a condition that causes pain in the body's muscles, ligaments and tendons
  • lupus – a long-term condition that causes inflammation in the body's tissues
  • gout – a type of arthritis that usually affects the big toe, but can also develop in any joint in the body
  • psoriatic arthritis – joint inflammation that affects people with the skin condition, psoriasis
  • reactive arthritis – can cause inflammation of the joints, eyes, and urethra (the tube through which urine passes that runs from the bladder through the penis in men or the vulva in women)
  • secondary arthritis – a type of arthritis that can develop after a joint injury; it sometimes occurs many years after the injury
  • polymyalgia rheumatica – a condition where the immune system attacks healthy tissue, causing muscle pain, stiffness and joint inflammation

Life with arthritis

Tips on living with a long-term condition, including healthcare, medicines and support

Caring for someone with arthritis

Tips for carers of someone who needs care or has mobility problems due to severe arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation within a joint.

In the UK, around 10 million people have arthritis. The condition affects people of all ages including children (see below).

There are many different types of arthritis that cause a wide range of symptoms. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK, affecting an estimated 8.5 million people.

In people affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between their bones gradually wastes away, leading to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips.

Osteoarthritis often develops in people who are over 50 years of age. However, it can develop at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition.

Read more about osteoarthritis

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe, but less common, form of arthritis than osteoarthritis. It occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys the affected joints, causing pain and swelling to occur. This can lead to a reduction in movement and the breakdown of bone and cartilage.

In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people, and  often starts in people between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. Women are three times more likely to be affected by the condition than men.

Read more about rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms of arthritis

There are many different symptoms of arthritis and the symptoms you experience will vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. However, common arthritic symptoms include:

  • joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • inflammation in and around the joints
  • restricted movement of the joints
  • warmth and redness of the skin over the affected joint
  • weakness and muscle wasting

Arthritis and children

Although arthritis is often associated with older people, it can sometimes affect children. In the UK, about 12,000 children under 16 years of age have arthritis.

Most types of childhood arthritis are referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints for at least six weeks.

Although the exact cause of JIA is unknown, the symptoms often improve as a child gets older, allowing them to lead a normal life.

The main types of JIA are discussed below.

Oligo-articular JIA

Oligo-articular JIA is the most common type of JIA. It affects four or less joints in the body, most commonly in the knees, ankles and wrists.

Oligo-articular JIA has good recovery rates and long-term effects are rare. However, there is a risk that children with the condition may develop eye problems, so it is recommended that they have regular eye checks with an ophthalmologist (an eye care specialist).

Polyarticular JIA (polyarthritis)

Polyarticular JIA, or polyarthritis, affects five or more joints. It can develop at any age during childhood.

The symptoms of polyarticular JIA are similar to those of adult rheumatoid arthritis. The condition is often accompanied by a rash and a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above.

Systemic onset JIA

Systemic onset JIA begins with symptoms such as a fever, rash, lethargy (lack of energy) and enlarged glands. Later on, joints can become swollen and inflamed.

Like polyarticular JIA, systemic onset JIA can affect children of any age.

Enthesitis-related arthritis

Enthesitis-related arthritis is a type of juvenile arthritis that affects older boys or teenagers. The condition can cause pain in the soles of the feet and around the knee and hip joints where the ligaments attach to the bone.

You can read more about arthritis in children on the Arthritis Care website.

Treating arthritis

There is no cure for arthritis but there are a number of treatments that can help slow down the condition’s progress.

Medication can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended.

For osteoarthritis, analgesics (painkillers), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids are often prescribed. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended such as:

  • arthroplasty (joint replacement)
  • arthodesis (joint fusion)
  • osteotomy (where a bone is cut and re-aligned)

Read more about how osteoarthritis is treated.

The aim in treating rheumatoid arthritis is to slow down the progress of the condition and minimise joint damage. Recommended treatments may include:

Read more about how rheumatoid arthritis is treated.

Support groups

Support groups, such as Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care offer information, advice and support for people living with arthritis.

You can also use the post code search to find arthritis services in your area and hospitals for arthritis.

Last reviewed: 11/04/2012

Next review due: 11/04/2014


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User749942 said on 20 February 2013

Hi Jah88
I hope you're feeling better although expect you've been finding the winter tough. I am 30 years old and have been experiencing the same as you, since the same age. I am also 5 foot 11. I was also told I had low vitamin D. I am also what they call hypermobile in my joints. Has your doc checked for this?
Are there any rheumatology problems in your family? There are lots of varying problems in my family such as early onset arthritis, thyroid, lupus, and on the strength of this I got a referral to my local hospital's rheumatology department. This was where I was diagnosed with spondyloarthropathy and hypermobility. But even if you do not have problems in your family, why not ask the doc if you can get a referral to a specialist as you are still in so much pain, and the pain gets worse in the cold, this is a typical rheumatological symptom and only a specialist can diagnose.
I have found strengthening exercises the most useful medicine. I have also seen a homeopath who treated me for viruses that can cause pain in joints. I felt better after their medicine too.
An MRI scan showed I had a slpped disc so I have been seeing a chiropractor for that. I saw someone who uses the 'mctimoney' method as its very gentle and specific. Its helped ease symptoms a lot.
I thought it was worth trying every route.
If you can - start paying in to a money-back insurance scheme before you get diagnosed - it will pay for any treatment you want but cannot get on NHS once you are diagnosed!
I am now much better and seeing the consultant again soon. All the best.

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jah88 said on 23 December 2012

I'm 24 i have been having pains in my joints since about the age of 18 mainly in my elbows, hips, shoulders, and it leave me feeling paralyzed in the morning and I've had to have friends carry me to the doc, i find that in the winter it gets worst but every time i go to the doctor last i just get told its nothing and dont feel like im being listened to.

i was told my vitD levels are low and was precribed supplements and that could be the reasons. now this year the pains are worse than ever and i dont know what to do im living off ibuphoren and pain killers im not even 25 yet

im 5ft 11 nd 10st im not under/over weight but i cant take this pain i really dont jnow what to do.

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susiecoo said on 21 November 2012

Hi, has anyone had a bone fusion on their big toe? and if so could you get proper shoes on afterwards?

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db1dj1 said on 14 November 2012

reply to susiecoo-itoo had pain in ball of right foot.many doc/podietry and othotic treatments eventually had an op to raise my metatarsel . this did not help. spent hours on line self diagnosing and decided it was mortens neuroma .hinted this to phisio helping me get walking after op . she said mention it to gp.did so and was sent for ultrasound which confirmed neuroma . three years of agony and many so called specialists later it was my own diagnosis that was correct . have had op to remove neuroma and can now walk again painlessly. this is an extreamly painful condition and i advise you to insist on being refered to your hospital podietry surgeon.good luck and best wishes .life can be normal again.

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susiecoo said on 03 September 2012

About 5 or 6 years ago i had pain in my foot, especially my big toe, it was not red or swollen but very painful. well I was told by my Doctor that it was Gout! because my Uric acid level was quite high. I questioned this as it was not the typical symptoms of Gout, I was prescribed Alopurinol which i would have to take for the rest of my life! I took these for a while but without any relief, so stopped, in the meantime everytime i visited my Doctor i questioned whether it was Gout, he eventually referred me to Hospital for tests, after a considerable time i was diagnosed with a Mortons Nueroma & also Arthritus in my Bigtoe, I had the Nueroma injected & the Toe manipulated & injected under anesthetic, that was 6months ago, but now I am in considerable pain and am waiting to see the surgeon again at the Nuffield, in the meantime it is so difficult to get about. Has anyone else experienced this condition?

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no1mama said on 20 March 2012

I've had rheumatism in my legs since a child (apparently an inherited family tendancy, so a doctor informed me) Lived with that for years, but have had increasing & severe pain of different kind for several years, for which I have been prescribed anti-inflammatory tablets. This has got increasingly worse, & to try to ease the pain, I tried several other remedies, none of which helped. My present doctor has since identified the problem as osteoarthritis, (in my hips, knees, spine &hands) which will not improve, only get worse, I am informed. I have been prescribed other medication which has improved things a little, but they will only alleviate the symptoms. I find that I am getting limitations in mobility, sometimes quite severe, & although I work full-time at present, because of these problems, am considering going part-time or even retiring. The thing is, in view of my problems, if I retired, could I register as disabled?
And if so, how?

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sadwithpain said on 17 February 2012

Although I have had severe back pain for years I have coped with it thanks to Co-Codamol. But since I retired I (2010) have now got pain in my joints! isn't nature cruel?I was referred to specialist last week who says he can relieve my wrist/thumb pain with an op' to remove some bone which will give me relief. I am so looking forward to that (when it happens) Sleepless nights are common place with this kind of pain. getting plenty of reading done though. I can recommend getting a Kindle as it is so light it puts little pressure on thumbs.

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halo1994 said on 07 February 2012

Hi my name is Chelsey. I am age 17 and have just been diagnosed with Imflamtory arthritus. It strated off with back at the beigining of December 2011. When my right knee strtedto get painful and feel stiff. I was ony now that the doctors have just been able to tell me whats wrong. I was wondering if anyone could giv me any information about it and what i should do. and also maybe what i will be experiancing now that i have been diagnosed with it. I was also wondering if anyone would kno , if I was able to claim disablity for it . thankyou for your help :)

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spikeyfigow said on 01 December 2011

@bexy1... just read ur comment with interest as i am goin 2 c a rheumatologist this month as i hav alot of pain and swollen joints but i am also seeing a physio at moment as i hav had groin strain for over a year so i will b interested 2 find out if this is also arthritis rather than groin strain

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Bexy1 said on 24 November 2011

I am now 47 and I was diagnosed with Artritis in my hips 2 years ago. I thought it was a groin strain at first and my my doctor only sent me for an xray because it was not going away. The xray and physio assessment should show fairly conclusivly I think if you have arthritis. Its a progressive problem so its only going to get worse but the medication just helps with the pain and inflamation basically. I have put off surgery for a year but I have gone down hill pretty quickly over the last few months (my phsio did warn me about this) and am due to have an op in Jan for both hips, I can't wait to be honest.

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canter2862 said on 04 November 2011

hi my phartner is active and in good helth only some times hes fingers lock does aney one no wot it is

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zavrou said on 14 July 2011

I have severe o/arthritis in my right hand especially my middle finger. Problem is that I do not have an index finger owing to an accident some years ago and my poor middle finger does the work of two. Complicate that with a terminally ill husband and then tell me to take ibuprofen and propain gel. I have yet to find a pain killer that works and with the number of times a day I have to wash my hands propain gel is a waste of money. Am seeing Dr on 20th to try to get some better treatment. Will let you all know.

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John Wragg said on 09 May 2011

I was told today by my doctor that I have Osteoarthritis and that there was nothing he could do about it except give me pain killers as the pain got worse. Wow thanks doc.


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kels62 said on 10 February 2011

I'm confused I've had blood tests that confirmed inflammation which is my hips. I have xrays which confirmed this and had the results today. All that was said by one dr its just gen wear and tear. Nothing unusual dont see any need for any ops. I told him I have a lot of pain sometimes. I get very stiff. All have problems sleeping because of it. Was told to take pain killers and lose weight.
The other dr who saw my xray has refered me to a Rheumatologist I'm waiting for an app.This is effecting my life in gen includding my work.It has got worse within the last year. I have explained this. I do take various tabs for the joins have been for a year. Two diff things two drs..I will be going to see what specialist has to say.

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Lilu said on 06 February 2011

I'm thinking about moving in UK (after graduating), but there are some concerns with my treatment: I have still's disease(diagnosed in 2010, april, I'm 24 years old). I'm taking now: Methotrexate 15 mg per week; 8 mg Medrol (Methylprednisolonum) every day; and 20 mg Arava(Leflunomide) every other day. In my home (Latvia) first & third medicaments I receive for free as a eligible drugs, of course with presciptions. And how is in UK, about this question?Patients with the same disease must pay full price?
Best Regards!

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coltay said on 02 January 2011

i have arthritis and have been prescribed Naprosyn 500mg (twice a day) I jog for about 30 minutes a day, my pain is not severe most days just soreness and dont think i need to take Naprosyn long term(with so many side affects) but my doctor says i should keep taking it . Will Naprosyn slow the diesese down or is it just a pain killer ?

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lawebstar said on 07 December 2010

im new to this website and this is the first coment ive made, im not sure if i have arthritus or not, but i can tell you now all my joints hurt esp in this winter weather, my lower back is starting to really hurt now and i cant stand up-right, does anyone know of these symptoms and can you point me in the right direction please, thank you.

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ariel66 said on 04 August 2010

Dear Gymrat,
I understand you very well, because I have got arthritis as well. I have had it for 10 years now. It is well treated, so that I am in very good shape, I can say. I am 43 now. Only last year I started again wiht pains in my hands (some fingers always swollen, which I feared so much). This happened because I wanted to plan pregnancy and in order to do that I had to stop Methotrexate and Plaquenil. Then I decided at the moment to stop planning pregnancy, since my health is more important than having a child at all cost.
In July I went to see my previous rhumatologist, who changed my therapy. I am feeling much better. In fact, after coming back to Methotrexate an Plaquenil ( since Half May) I haven't been feeling well as before. My new rhumatolgist (who is indeed a doctor who was curing me 6 years ago) decided to make me take cyclosporine instead of Methotrexate and Enbrel instead of Remicade. (Remicade and Enbrel are both biological drugs which are used to treat arthritis).
What therapy are you following?
I hope you will answer.
Now I have a problem here in England, because I should do a blood test to check the level of cyclosporine in my blood, and the say that I am not covered with NHS ( even though I am a European citizen, I am Italian being on holiday, I think this is unfair).

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gymrat said on 29 July 2010

i was just diagnosed with AC joint arthritis 3 weeks ago, i believe i have had this for a few years now, anyway have had physio and steroid injections. I work in a sports centre i am a qualified gym instructor and also work around the centre but i have lots of flare ups in this joint and i am angry because although i know i should keep it mobilized i can't because of the pain and discumfort the next few days and because i am angry i carry on with the management team, just to release the stress. I am 37 years old what do you suggest

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User63550 said on 23 June 2010

Some GP's have different views. An 87 old lady has athritis and the GP said it is becuase of age. I do ot think this should be the attititue from the GP instead of trying to help them with diet, other treatemnt home visit by the pysiotheraphyist in her home.

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furat82 said on 24 March 2010

What we give to our customers for the arthiritis is only sound healthy natural products. it relives them alot without any side effects and also it also prevetative for any of the predicted arthiritis, which I also use on my self. the products I use lubricates the joints from inside and makes the cartilage so smooth.

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bagpuss60 said on 23 February 2010

well ron the worste thing you can do is jog, the best exercise you could do is, take a nice stroll around your area, and look for another doctor, who knows something about artritis, i myself have lived with it since i was 14yrs old, been in and out of hospitals had replacement joints, ive had a great life done all that i wanted to do, except drive:huge regret: but hay ho ive let it go. i do have a nifty little scooter thats gets me out , i cant walk now, but that not entirely to do with arther, i had a spine op that went wrong, so ron, by all means exercise, but take it easy, its not like when your training at a gym and your going for the burn,do that and you will burn believe me, you will flare up, my motto is if its hurting STOP.and my rhumatoligist always says to me jean i agree with you. enjoy your life. take care and good luck xxx

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Jaxo said on 28 September 2009

I (compound) fractured my ankle many years ago in a car accident and have not been without pain since. Sometimes it is so excrutiating that I can't put my foot on the ground, it also wakes me at night. I have seen a consultant who suggest I have it fused, but I am worried that it will leave me with an even worse limp than I already have on bad days. Can you tell me if I will regret having this done.

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LJKLJK said on 23 September 2009

The term Reiter's syndrome is no longer used, as agreed by international editors of rheumatology journals, and I am amazed that you haven't checked. Firstly, Reiter was not the first to describe the syndrome, and secondly he was a doctor associated closely with the Nazi regime and conducted unethical experiments on unconsenting patients, so should not be recognised in this way. If you aren't up to date with this, what else is inaccurate? Also, rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis, not a synonym for it.

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lararefaeli said on 26 August 2009

Arthritis means "inflammation of joints." Yet when older people are afflicted with arthritis, they tend to be bothered less by the inflammation and more by the pain and stiffness that accompany arthritis.

Many people assume arthritis to be an unavoidable part of growing old. Although aging itself does not cause arthritis, arthritis does become more common as people age, for various reasons. The development of arthritis brings many older people much distress. Jack Benny may have captured a sense of that distress when, as he was being honored, he remarked about his arthritis, "I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either."

Among the different types of arthritis, several affect mostly older people. The most common of these is osteoarthritis. Others include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, pseudogout, and infectious arthritis

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KateSmith said on 04 June 2009

If it hurts too much, then jogging is not the best thing at the moment. What your doctor meant by this is that your condition mustn't stop you from being active as usual. I recommend you to take walks of a certain length and at a certain speed most convenient for you and..... doing USUAL things you did before your condition actually began. I'm myself a person with arthritis being only 31 years old! I wish you good luck!

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ronniemagen said on 16 May 2009

i have arthritis no more to be said
my doctor suggests i go jogging would this help

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