Athlete getting a doctor's diagnosis of her joint pain

Inflammatory arthritis is not one single disease, but rather a group of diseases that are characterized by inflamed joints and tissues.1,2 Many common types of arthritis are inflammatory in nature, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Systemic lupus erythematosus and ankylosing spondylitis are other forms of inflammatory arthritis that affect individuals.

The purpose of this article is to define and discuss inflammatory arthritis, including its symptoms and who is most at risk of developing this type of condition. The information below will also suggest ways for people with inflammatory arthritis to diagnose their pain and find relief through modern medicine, lifestyle changes, and home care.

Causes of Inflammatory Arthritis

Oftentimes, inflammatory arthritis is caused by an autoimmune condition in which the body’s own immune system turns against itself and begins to attack itself. Other potential causes include hormones, infections, and even stress.1,2,3 The exact causes of many types of inflammatory arthritis are unknown, and additional research is underway.

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Who Does Inflammatory Arthritis Affect?

Research has shown that genetics play a part in who develops inflammatory arthritis, at least to some extent. Unlike osteoarthritis, which commonly affects older adults and ex-athletes who put excess wear and tear on their joints,4,5 inflammatory arthritis can affect individuals of any age and level of activity. Studies have shown that women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, a common form of inflammatory arthritis, than men.6 Children also develop inflammatory arthritis, and it can even affect the eyes and lungs of their young, developing bodies.7

Symptoms of Inflammatory Arthritis

Inflammatory forms of arthritis are considered to be systemic, which means that they affect the whole body and not just a single part.1 The most prevalent symptom of inflammatory arthritis, regardless of the type, is pain, swelling, and warmth in the joints. It is also common for people with this condition to feel stiffness in the morning that lasts for a few hours. In some cases, inflammatory arthritis sufferers may experience rashes on their skin, fever, and hair loss as well.

Finding Relief for Inflammatory Arthritis

As with any type of arthritis, the first step in finding relief for the inflammation and pain is to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Doctors can make this diagnosis by a review of one’s medical history and a physical exam with lab tests, x-rays, and imaging technology.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often recommended to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with this condition. Also, arthritis pain relief creams like JointFlex deeply penetrate the site of pain to provide immediate relief and foster long-term improvements. In severe cases, doctors may recommend corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs to stop inflammation in order to protect the joints and organs.

For individuals living with inflammatory arthritis, daily life can be a challenge. Exercise is often recommended to support weight loss and muscle strengthening to support the joints and reduce the weight burden.8 It may also help to use a cane or walker for mobility and to use adaptive technology for household tasks like opening jars and using the shower.

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1. Inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
2. Cooper, G. (2011 January 10). Inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
3. The menopause-arthritis connection. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
4. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Osteoarthritis (OA). Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/osteoarthritis-oa/.
5. Amoako, A. O. & Pujalte, G. G. A. (2014 May 22). Osteoarthritis in young, active, and athletic individuals. Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders, 7, 27-32. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from National Center for Biotechnology Information
6. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 10, 2018,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
7. Juvenile arthritis. American College of Rheumatology. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
8. Physical activity for arthritis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from