In general, the most common form of arthritis, by far, is osteoarthritis. It is a condition related to the degenerative changes in the joints, and commonly affects the fingers, knees and hips. Typically, patients complain of a short period of morning stiffness, lasting a few minutes and never beyond an hour. Most patients with osteoarthritis do not have marked impairment with their activity. The treatment consists of mild painkillers, advice on lifestyle modification to avoid worsening the joint disease and physiotherapy. Less commonly, but more serious is a disease called rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with this illness have significant morning stiffness (which may last for at least an hour if treatment is not sought) and joint swelling. More intensive treatment is needed. Speak to your doctor – family physicians will be able to distinguish the various forms of arthritis and will refer you to the appropriate specialist, if necessary.