Arthritis is a condition which affects joints. The joints of the body have very smooth surfaces that allow easy, pain free movement. The smooth surface of the joints is composed of a layer of articular cartilage over the bone ends.

Arthritis occurs when the smooth articular cartilage is damaged and eventually worn away.
This results in pain and stiffness in the joint.


The commonest cause of arthritis is hereditary (passed on in families), but there are many other causes for example, after earlier trauma (especially old knee injuries).


There are a range of treatments for arthritis. These include:

  • Simple measures (walking sticks, braces etc.)
  • Weight loss for lower limb arthritis
  • Medication
  • Joint injections
  • Surgery

Usually arthritis can be treated with non operative treatment initially. If symptoms, especially pain, cannot be managed with other measures then surgery may be helpful. The surgery that is required will depend on the particular joint involved and various patient factors.

For more information on knee and hip arthritis go to the section relating to these joints.