Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet. Arthritis-related problems include pain, stiffness, inflammation and damage to joint cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of bones, enabling them to move against each another) and surrounding structures.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004-2005 National Health Survey approximately 3 million Australians, or 15.3% of the population, suffered from some form of arthritis. Of these, about 60% were women. The prevalence of osteoarthritis is approximately three and a half times greater than that of rheumatoid arthritis. The rates of both increase with age, and are highest among those aged 65 and over.