Shop for Plans
Plans through your employer
- Learn about the medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral, and voluntary benefits your employer may offer.
- Explore coverage through work
- How to Buy Health Insurance
- Types of Dental Insurance
- Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment
- See all topics
Looking for Medicare coverage?
- Shop for Medicare plans
Shop for Plans
Shop for Plans
Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment
Joint pain, or arthritis, affects millions of people. Learn about the causes of arthritis, as well as arthritis symptoms and treatment.
Arthritis—the leading cause of disability among adults in the U.S.—is not a single disease; it’s an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. By conservative estimates, about 54 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and it’s more common in women (26 percent) than in men (18 percent).1
The risk of arthritis increases with age: Over one-third of adults in the U.S. with arthritis are 65 years or older.1
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.
Common Types of Arthritis
- Osteoarthritis (or degenerative): associated with cartilage wearing down, resulting in bone on bone joint movement
- Rheumatoid (or inflammatory): immune system attacks joints with uncontrolled inflammation
- Infectious: bacteria or a virus enters the joint and triggers inflammation
- Lupus: immune system attacks tissues and organs
- Fibromyalgia: pain in muscles and soft tissues
- Gout: uric acid builds up to cause intense pain
Causes of Arthritis
A combination of family history and physical activity can lead to different forms of arthritis.
Risk factors include:
- Being overweight or obese.
- Having a history of joint injuries or serious infections.
- Working in a job that requires repetitive motions.
Arthritis causes joint pain, stiffness, and/or swelling. These symptoms can feel mild, ongoing, or intense and surging. Arthritis can also cause other problems that may seem unrelated, like fatigue or a rash.
Arthritis Diagnosis and Screenings
Diagnosing arthritis is difficult, given so many different types and possible symptoms. If you feel symptoms of joint pain, you should see a doctor to check them out. Your Primary Care Provider (PCP) will examine you for some of the more common forms of arthritis, and may refer you to a rheumatologist or an orthopedist.
A rheumatologist is an arthritis specialist, and will do a comprehensive assessment of your joints. An orthopedist is a joint specialist, and will evaluate the physical or mechanical causes of your joint pain to determine if you need surgery, like a knee or hip replacement.
You can also expect some tests. X-rays are the most frequent method to see joints. Your doctors may also use ultrasound or MRIs, which can identify structural issues, cartilage loss, soft tissue tears, or bone fragments. You may also need a blood test to check your levels of inflammation, the presence of antibodies to fight infection, and how your liver and kidneys are functioning.
Treatment for Arthritis
Your doctor will probably recommend some things you can do at home, such as using heat and cold to soothe pain, resting the joint regularly, and protecting it from strain and overuse.
Arthritis cannot be cured, but early detection and treatment may help improve your quality of life.
You can delay the most damaging effects of joint pain if you:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Follow a moderate daily exercise plan.
- Avoid activities that could lead to injury.
- Protect joints from repetitive overuse.
Arthritis treatment choices also vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Most treatment options focus on controlling pain and minimizing joint damage.
You may need:
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Braces, splints, or other joint protection aids
- Weight loss
- Alternative care, such as acupuncture
More Information About Arthritis
For more facts about arthritis, check out the Arthritis Foundation website.
1 CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/national-statistics.html, accessed August 12, 2021
I want to...
Secure Member Sites
The Cigna Group Information
Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna Group Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna Healthcare name, logo, and other Cigna Healthcare marks are owned by The Cigna Group Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of The Cigna Group.
All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna Healthcare sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.