Non-Inflammatory and Inflammatory Arthritis

March, 2021


There are over 100 conditions grouped under the umbrella term 'arthritis', but are usually placed into two main categories: Non-Inflammatory Arthritis and Inflammatory Arthritis. They are placed in these categories based on their underlying disease processes - we'll explain a bit more about this below.  

Unfortunately, we still don't fully understand what causes the different types of arthritis, however we do know that there are a number of risk factors which can increase a persons chance of developing a condition. These risk factors commonly include, but are not limited to:

  • Genetics
  • Family history
  • Age
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Joint injury or strain
  • Unhealthy behaviours such as smoking   


Non-Inflammatory Arthritis

This group of conditions is sometimes called 'mechanical arthritis', 'degenerative arthritis' or 'wear-and-tear arthritis'. Although these names make these conditions sound simple, they are actually very complex.

Non-inflammatory types of arthritis are often the result of a breakdown or damage to the different parts of the joint, for example cartilage. Although we don't exactly know what causes these types of arthritis, there are some key risk factors including our genetics, body weight and joint strain. Non-Inflammatory types of arthritis are localised conditions, which means they stay in the joints affected and don't spread around the body.  

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of non-inflammatory arthritis in Australia and around the world.  

Inflammatory Arthritis

This type of arthritis is sometimes called 'auto-immune arthritis', 'auto-inflammatory arthritis', and used to commonly be called 'rheumatism'.  

These conditions are very complex and are the result of our immune system malfunctioning, causing our body to attack itself. In many cases, our body will mistakenly send large amounts of inflammation to our joints. This inflammation then starts to attack the healthy parts of our joints causing them to become swollen and painful.  

Inflammatory forms of arthritis are systemic conditions, meaning if they are left untreated they may spread around the body causing inflammation in other joint and organs.  

Inflammatory types of arthritis include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Lupus and many more.  

Luckily, there are great treatments available to help manage the different types of arthritis and help prevent their more serious impacts. Regardless of what type of arthritis you have, the earlier you get a diagnosis and start treatment the better your chances of controlling the condition. ​  

If you ever notice anything wrong with your joints, it is important to speak to your doctor about it. Particularly if your joints are stiff, painful, swollen or inflamed.

More Information and Support


Order your free information booklet 10 Steps to Living Well with Arthritis or download some of our handy information sheets


Register for our online exercise program, Arthritis Moves!


Register for Arthritis Assist to speak one-on-one with someone else living with arthritis. 


Join one of our online support groups to connect with other Australians living with arthritis. 

Your gift will fund support services for people living with arthritis and help us to continue researching for better treatments and cures.

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