“Arthritis” literally means joint inflammation, although joint inflammation is a symptom or sign rather than a specific diagnosis. The term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints. These disorders fall within the broader category of rheumatic diseases and are characterized by their inflammations. They especially affect joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. Common signs and symptoms are pain, swelling, and stiffness. Some rheumatic diseases also can involve internal organs. There are more than 100 rheumatic diseases that collectively affect more than 46 million Americans.
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