Arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation, pain and stiffness in the joints. It occurs due to the breaking down of cartilage that normally acts as a cushion between bones. It may be brought on by normal wear and tear, overuse, an old injury, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or an auto-inflammatory disease. Because arthritis can cause permanent and progressive injury to the joints, it’s important to speak to your doctor about chronic pain and/or stiffness you may experience in your knees, hips, wrists, shoulders or elsewhere. Effective treatments are available to reduce your pain and lessen the inflammation that causes joint damage, including prescription medications, physical therapy, joint replacement and other surgical procedures.