Article by MedExpress

Everything you need to know about arthritis

What is arthritis?

Arthritis describes pain and inflammation of the joints, and it isn’t just one condition — there are more than 100 different types. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common.

Osteoarthritis, also known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, occurs when the smooth cartilage that covers the ends of your bones gradually wears down over time. It can also be seen in people who play sports and repeatedly use the same joints, which makes the cartilage break down faster. The knees, hips and hands are commonly affected by this kind of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is a disease that causes the immune system to attack your synovial membranes, or the thin barrier that lines your joints. This usually affects multiple joints in a symmetrical pattern. 

How common is osteoarthritis?

Roughly 7% of the UK’s population has osteoarthritis, and the risk of developing it increases with age. A third of women and almost a quarter of men between the ages of 45 and 64 seek treatment for osteoarthritis. This rises to almost half of people who are aged 75 years or over. (1) 

What causes osteoarthritis?

The exact causes of osteoarthritis aren’t fully known. It’s a complex condition caused by a range of genetic, biological and biomechanical factors. We do know there are several risk factors for getting osteoarthritis: 

  • Ageing — The risk increases as you get older due to natural wear and tear of the joints over time. This is the strongest risk factor for developing osteoarthritis (2)
  • Female sex — Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men, especially after the age of 50. 
  • Genetics — People with family members who have osteoarthritis are more likely to get it themselves.
  • Obesity — This increases the load on weight-bearing joints, which elevates the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis more than threefold, and accelerates disease progression. (2)

Joint injury or overuse — Injury or overuse, such as knee bending and repetitive stress on a joint, can damage it and increase the risk of osteoarthritis. (3)

Weather and arthritis

We don’t know a lot about the connection between weather and arthritis. A recent British study showed a correlation between pain and three weather components — relative humidity, air pressure and wind speed, but not temperature (4). 

If there is an association between colder weather and arthritis symptoms, these may be the possible explanations: 

  • Lower temperatures may lead to thickening of synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints. This could lead to joint pain and stiffening.
  • On cold, rainy days, you may be less likely to be out and active, and lack of physical activity is known to make joint pain and stiffness worse.

Tips for weather-related pain
If you experience increased arthritis pain during colder months, here are some tips to help you manage it:

  • Stay active — Muscles, tendons and ligaments that don’t move tend to tighten up. It’s why you might feel sore after sitting for long stretches.
  • Stretch regularly —Yoga and stretching are great ways to increase flexibility and maintain your joint health.
  • Keep warm — Wear extra layers if needed and eat at least one hot meal a day.
  • Consider an anti-inflammatory medication — These treatments work by reducing levels of prostaglandin, the chemical that causes pain and inflammation, in your body.

Take control of your arthritis pain with a clinically effective anti-inflammatory medication today. Start a free online consultation to get your treatment delivered straight to your door, with no GP or pharmacy visits needed. 


1. NICE CKS, Arthritis [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/osteoarthritis/background-information/prevalence/ 

2. NICE CKS, OA [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from: https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/osteoarthritis/

3. CDC: Osteoarthritis (OA) [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2020 [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis

4. Weather and Arthritis [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from: https://www.arthritis.org/best-climate-for-arthritis