Healthy Joints Matter

What exactly is a joint?

A joint (joynt) is where two or more bones are joined together. Joints can be rigid, like the joints between the bones in your skull, or movable, like knees, hips, and shoulders. Many joints have cartilage (KAHRT-lij) on the ends of the bones where they come together. Healthy cartilage helps you move by allowing bones to glide over one another. It also protects bones by preventing them from rubbing against each other.

Keeping your joints healthy will allow you to run, walk, jump, play sports, and do the other things you like to do. Physical activity, a balanced diet, avoiding injuries, and getting plenty of sleep will help you stay healthy and keep your joints healthy too.

What can go wrong? How do I keep my joints more healthy? Definitions What can go wrong?

Although you might think arthritis affects only older people, it can affect young people, too.

Some people get arthritis (ar-THRY-tis). The term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints. Although you might think arthritis affects only older people, it can affect young people, too. There are many different forms of arthritis:

Osteoarthritis (AH-stee-oh-ar-THRY-tis) is the most common type of arthritis and is seen especially among older people. In osteoarthritis, the surface cartilage in the joints breaks down and wears away, allowing the bones to rub together. This causes pain, swelling, and loss of motion in the joint. Sometimes, it can be triggered by an injury to a joint, such as a knee injury that damages the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis (ROO-muh-toid ar-THRY-tis) is known as an autoimmune (aw-toh-i-MYOON) disease, because the immune system attacks the tissues of the joints as if they were disease-causing germs. This results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. People with rheumatoid arthritis may also feel tired and sick, and they sometimes get fevers. It can cause permanent damage to the joints and sometimes affects the heart, lungs, or other organs. Gout (gowt) is a form of arthritis that is caused by a buildup of uric acid (YOOR-ic acid) crystals in the joints, most commonly in the big toe. It can be extremely painful. There are several effective treatments for gout that can reduce disability and pain. Juvenile arthritis is a term often used to describe arthritis in children. Children can develop almost all types of arthritis that affect adults, but the most common type that affects children is juvenile idiopathic (id-ee-uh-PATH-ik) arthritis. Other forms of arthritis may be associated with diseases like lupus (LOO-puhs), fibromyalgia (fi-bromy-AL-juh), psoriasis (suh-RYE-uh-sis), or certain infections. In addition, other diseases might affect the bones or muscles around a joint, causing problems in that joint.