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Arthritis Terms

Many arthritis patients have a hard time understanding many of the terms used by medical professionals during consultations. Here are many definitions of many of the terms associated with Arthritis that you may encounter during a visit with a doctor or rheumatologist. Each term has a basic definition beside it. To find out more about any of the arthritis terms just click on the work and it will take you to a more detailed page.

Acute - When a doctor uses the term acute it means that the disease or condition developed suddenly.

ANA - ANA stands for anti-nuclear antibodies.


Antibody - a protein produced in the blood which destroys bacteria, viruses and other substances that inter the body.

Antigen - A substance that when introduced into the body stimulates the production of an antibody. Antigens include toxins, bacteria, foreign blood cells, and the cells of transplanted organs.



Articular cartilage

Autoantibody - Autoantibodies are a group of antibodies (immune proteins) that mistakenly target and damage specific tissues or organs of the body.

Autoimmune - referring to the development of an immune response to one's own tissues.

Autoimmune disease

Bouchard's Nodes - an abnormal swelling of a knuckle. It usually occurs in wasting diseases of the joints, as osteoarthritis.

Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that ease friction between tendons and bones (and tendons and ligaments), causing swelling and pain.

C-Reactive Protein



Cartilaginous joint


Connective tissue



elastin: Stretchable protein found in connective tissue.




Heberden's node


Immune system





Lupus: A chronic inflammatory condition caused by an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune system. Patients with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that are targeted against their own body tissues.




Physical therapy





Raynaud disease:

Reactive arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis : An autoimmune disease which causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Autoimmune diseases occur when the body tissues are mistakenly attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization of cells and antibodies designed normally to "seek and destroy" invaders of the body, particularly infections. Patients with these diseases have antibodies in their blood which target their own body tissues, where they can be associated with inflammation. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness (meaning it can last for years) patients may experience long periods without symptoms

rheumatoid factor: An antibody found in about 85 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis; also appears in other diseases and sometimes in healthy people.






synovial joint




Systemic lupus erythematosus : A chronic inflammatory condition caused by an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease occurs when the body's tissues are attacked by its own immune system. Patients with lupus have unusual antibodies in their blood that are targeted against their own body tissues.


Titer - Titer is a way of measuring antibodies in a persons blood.

Vasculitis:  A general term for a group of diseases that feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each of these diseases is defined by characteristic distributions of blood vessel involvement, patterns of organ involvement, and laboratory test abnormalities. The causes of these vasculitis diseases are usually not known, but immune system abnormality is a common feature.






This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.

Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis. is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

Where we get our information.

Most of the information in the site is compiled by editors from information provided by the National Institutes of Health. We are in the process of updating our pages. In the past we have not made reference to the source for information provide by our editors. In the next few weeks we hope to have all our pages marked as to the source.

We have included information from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Pages that uses information from this source are so acknowledged.

We have contributing authors that send information. Where information is provided by an outside author it is acknowledged by a byline under the title.

Updates of Pages.

Not all of our pages have a date as to the last update. We are in the processes of reviewing all our pages and as we do we include a reference as to when the page was updated. This web site was first published in January of 2003. All pages in the site were created at sometime during or after that time.