In osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis in the UK – the cartilage (connective tissue) between the 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. Although more common in those over 50, it can develop at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is more severe, but less common. 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.
It typically starts between the ages of 40 and 50 years old and women are three times more likely to be affected than men.