Arthritis is a chronic disorder that affects 1 in every 5 Canadians, or about 6 million people over the age of 15. And over half of those Canadians suffering with arthritis are younger than 65. It is one of the major reasons people see their doctor and one of the leading causes of disability in Canada.
The word arthritis is derived from the Greek words arthron for "joint" and itis for "inflammation". Today, the term is used for hundreds of different varieties of joint problems that have specific symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common types of arthritis conditions. Other types of arthritis include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), and psoriatic arthritis.
The effects of arthritis are often mild, but in some cases they can be crippling. RA affects about 1 out of every 100 people, with 2 to 3 times more women than men being affected. Joints and other organs may be affected by this form of arthritis. OA is estimated to affect about 1 in 7 Canadians and affects more women than men. OA can occur at any age but is more common as people age. It is also much more common in overweight people.