The term "arthritis" actually encompasses more than 100 different conditions, some of which are chronic and last throughout a person's life, while others are acute and only last for a short period. In addition, there are four different categories of arthritis:
Symptoms can vary from person to person, and some types of arthritis affect certain joints more than others. Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness are among the most common symptoms, but since these are also seen with many other conditions, you likely will need to see a rheumatologist to receive a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment will also vary, depending on the type of arthritis a person has. Options include medications, exercise, alternative approaches, and even surgery. Keep in mind that there is no cure for this condition -- treatment can only help minimize or relieve symptoms.
(Click Arthritis for an in-depth look at this common medical condition, with detailed information on the different types, how a diagnosis is made, specific treatment approaches, and more.)