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Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are characterized by pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissues in the body. Millions of Americans have some form of arthritis.

Picture of a physical therapist in an exercise room

Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of a joint (where two or more bones meet), actually refers to more than 100 different diseases. Rheumatic diseases include any diseases that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints or other supportive body structures, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. In fact, the group of arthritis diseases falls under the category of rheumatic diseases.

Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are often mistakenly associated with old age, because osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis) occurs more often among older people. However, arthritis and other rheumatic diseases affect people of all ages.