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What is the outlook for arthritis?

The symptoms of musculoskeletal problems can vary from day to day and from week to week.

Many problems will get better by themselves, including such things as sprains. Episodes of back pain or painful ‘flare-ups’ of rheumatoid arthritis are also often short-lived, even though the underlying cause hasn’t changed. Other conditions, including gout, can often be controlled by treatment.

Many types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, are long-term conditions, where the disease can't be cured. The symptoms of these conditions tend to vary over time.

Often your symptoms may go into remission for quite some time, but then there will be periods where your symptoms become worse for a while. Although these flare-ups may be related to things like viral infections, they'll often happen for no apparent reason. The aim of treatment is to keep you in remission for as much of the time as possible, so that you can get on with your life as normally as you can, while minimising any progression of the disease.

Arthritis can affect people in different ways and this makes it difficult for doctors to predict a clear outcome for any one patient. However, most people with arthritis don't have major mobility problems, and effective treatment will help reduce the risk of disability or joint damage, even in more severe cases.


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