According to medical definitions, there are more than 40 conditions that manifest as joint pain. The most likely causes are joint injury, joint strain or sprain, infections, cancer and inflammatory joint disease such as the various types of arthritis. Tendonitis and bursitis can also fit into these categories.
Here, we will concentrate on the inflammatory conditions that cause joint pain, the most common form being the condition we all know as arthritis. The word comes from arthro (joint) and itis (inflammation) and inflammation is defined as the symptoms of heat, pain, redness and swelling. Sound familiar? Arthritis, however, is a much more complex and diverse condition than you might at first imagine.
The big picture
Arthritis in its many forms is Australia’s major cause of disability and chronic pain. It affects 16.7 per cent of Australians (more than 3.4 million people), of which 60.4 per cent are women. Sixty per cent are between the ages of 15 and 64 (ie of working age). Fifty-four per cent of Australians over 75 have arthritis.