Inflammation and stiffness in joints

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical condition that causes inflammation and stiffness in your joints and can affect individuals of all ages and genders. Arthritis can be a chronic condition, impacting your quality of life, if left untreated. 

There are many types of arthritis, these are: 

  • Osteoarthritis: the most common form of arthritis, affecting 10% of individuals. It occurs due to the wear and tear of the joint cartilage over a long period of time. This condition is likely to develop in older adults, especially anyone who is overweight as it can affect weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees, and spine. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases if you have had previous joint injuries.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, which can lead to joint damage, deformity, and disability. It can affect individuals of all ages, but commonly starts between the ages of 30 to 50.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Adult Still’s Disease: a rare form of inflammatory arthritis that causes joint pain, fever, rashes, and inflammation throughout your body. It can affect individuals of all ages but commonly starts in early adulthood between the ages of 16 to 35. It can also affect other organs such as the lungs, heart, and liver, and can cause serious complications if left untreated.
  • Psoriatic arthritis: can develop in people with psoriasis (an autoimmune condition that causes skin inflammation). It can also affect any joint in your body and lead to permanent joint damage if left untreated.

psoriasis arthritis
Psoriasis arthritis may occur in individuals with psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder.
  • Gonococcal arthritis: a rare type of arthritis that occurs as a result of a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It commonly affects sexually active adults with multiple partners.
  • Glenohumeral osteoarthritis: affects the elbow joint and causes pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. It commonly affects older adults or anyone who has had previous shoulder injuries and/or surgeries.
  • Stiff elbow / osteoarthritis: affects the elbow joint and causes pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. It can be caused by previous injuries or overuse, commonly affecting people who engage in repetitive motions such as lifting and throwing.

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis can be caused by a variety of factors, these include:

  • Age
  • Previous joint injury or infection
  • Obesity 
  • Autoimmune disorder(s)

The exact cause of arthritis can be complex and depends on the type of arthritis you have. In some cases, the cause of arthritis may be unknown or idiopathic. However, in general, the onset of arthritis results from a combination of genetics and environmental and lifestyle factors.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Symptoms of a slipped or herniated disc include: 

  • Osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints, decreased range of motion, popping sounds when moving your joint, and the formation of bone spurs (osteophytes).
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: joint pain, swelling, stiffness (especially in the smaller joints of your hand), fatigue, fever, and weight loss.
  • Adult Still’s Disease: intermittent high fever, rashes, joint pain, sore throat, and inflammation of your internal organs (liver, spleen, or heart)
  • Psoriatic arthritis: joint pain and stiffness, skin lesions or rashes, nail changes, and fatigue.
  • Gonococcal arthritis: joint pain and inflammation, fever, skin rashes, and genital discharge.
  • Glenohumeral osteoarthritis: shoulder joint pain, decreased range of motion, and difficulty performing overhead movements.
  • Stiff elbow / osteoarthritis: pain and stiffness in your elbow joint, limited range of motion, and popping sensation when moving your elbow joint
Arthritis can occur in multiple joints in the body.
If you notice any of the symptoms, make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.

Is arthritis painful?

Arthritis can be painful depending on the type and severity of your condition, ranging from mild to severe.

Some types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, may cause you to feel pain during or after certain activities. Rheumatoid arthritis may cause more constant and widespread pain.

Who is at risk of arthritis in Singapore?

Arthritis can affect Singaporeans of all ages, genders, and races, but certain factors can increase the risk such as:

  • Age: the risk of developing arthritis increases with age because joint cartilage wears down as we age, giving rise to arthritis.
  • Genetics: a family history of arthritis increases your risk of developing the disorder. 
  • Previous joint injury: joint injuries such as bursitis, dislocations, etc, can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. 
  • Obesity: studies have shown that obesity is linked to certain types of arthritis. 
  • Smoking: smoking has been linked to both rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Occupations: certain jobs that involve repetitive joint movements or heavy lifting.
  • Gender: women are more likely to develop certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • Certain medical conditions: people with other chronic health conditions such as diabetes and/or heart disease can be more susceptible to developing arthritis.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

Arthritis is diagnosed using a variety of tests and examinations such as:

  • Physical examination and medical history: your orthopaedist will ask you about your symptoms and medical history followed by a physical examination. During the examination, they will pay attention to your joints, range of motion, and look out for any signs of inflammation, noting down if pain or discomfort is felt.
  • Imaging tests: x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computed tomography scans (CT-scans) will be performed to check for signs of arthritis.
  • Blood tests: to rule out other conditions that can cause joint pain and inflammation.

Based on the results of these tests, your orthopaedist will be able to make a diagnosis on whether you have arthritis, the specific type of arthritis, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

X-rays can be used to identify and diagnose arthritis.

What are the treatment options for arthritis in Singapore?

The treatment options for arthritis can vary depending on the type of arthritis and the severity of your symptoms. Generally, the goal of arthritis treatment(s) is to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and to improve joint function.

Some treatment options include:

Frequently asked questions
our process

Feeling aches and pains?

Book a consultation with us for a more comprehensive diagnosis and a personalised treatment plan best suited to your needs.

Feeling aches and pains?

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For emergency appointment, please call or Whatsapp us at (65) 8909 8877. We will arrange for a limousine to send you to our clinic.
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