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Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are marked by pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissues in the body. Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from arthritis in one form or another.

Picture of a doctor and nurse reviewing a patient's chart

Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of a joint (where two or more bones meet), actually refers to more than 100 different diseases. Rheumatic diseases include any diseases that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints or other supportive body structures, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. In fact, the group of arthritis diseases falls under the category of rheumatic diseases.

Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are often mistakenly associated with old age, because osteoarthritis occurs more often among older adults. However, arthritis and other rheumatic diseases affect people of all ages.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
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