The Different Types of Arthritis

Arthritis isn’t a single disease or condition. Instead, arthritis refers to pain, swelling, or inflammation of the joints, tissues around the joints, or connective tissues. More than 100 different types of arthritis exist. The most common symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion, but the exact symptoms depend on the type of disease.

Arthritis can be caused by many different things including wearing down of the structures in and around the joints; bacterial, viral, or fungal infections; and autoimmune responses.

Arthritis can refer to over 100 different diseases and conditions; the symptoms and treatments for the each type of arthritis can vary. Talk to your doctor so you get the care that you need. Click To Tweet

Here’s a quick look at some of the most common types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a degenerative disease and occurs when the cartilage between the bones has broken down. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones; without cartilage bones rub against each other causing pain, stiffness, and inflammation.

This may result from injury, repetitive motions, or naturally over time. Osteoarthritis typically affects the hands, knees, hips, and spine, but can affect any joint. 

The risk for osteoarthritis increases as you get older; staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding injury can help reduce your risk for developing osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that your body’s immune system attacks healthy cells causing inflammation in and around the joints and connective tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis can attack a single joint in the body or many joints at once. It may result in chronic pain or difficulty sleeping, and it can cause permanent damage to the joints Rheumatoid arthritis can also attack other organs in the body including the eyes, lungs, and the heart.

Medication is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, as are managing a healthy weight and staying physically active.

Psoriatic arthritis

Like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is a type of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. It typically occurs in people who have psoriasis, but people without psoriasis can also develop psoriatic arthritis. It can affect any joint in the body, but most often causes pain and inflammation in the lower extremities, fingers, toes, back, and pelvis.

Mild cases result in occasional flare ups, but psoriatic arthritis can cause joint damage. Diagnosing and treating psoriatic arthritis early on can help prevent damage to the joints.

Gout

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that results from high levels of uric acid in the blood. Your body makes uric acid as it breaks down purines, which occur naturally in the body as well as in foods. Red meat, mussels, scallops, tuna, and organ meat are all high in purines.

Gout typically affects one joint at a time; the most common symptom of gout is pain in the big toe. However, gout can also cause pain in other toe joints, a knee, or ankle.

Men are more likely to develop gout than women; 75% of gout cases in the U.S. occur in men. It affects more than 8 million Americans.

Juvenile arthritis

Arthritis is most often associated with older adults, but children can develop arthritis, too. Juvenile arthritis, or childhood arthritis, refers to autoimmune conditions, inflammatory conditions, or rheumatic diseases that affect children younger than 16 years of age. If left untreated, childhood arthritis can cause permanent damage to the joints.

Talk to your doctor about joint pain

Because there are so many different types of arthritis — each condition causing different symptoms and requiring different types of treatments — it’s necessary to talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms associated with arthritis. Getting the appropriate treatment can help slow, delay, or prevent the progression of the disease.

Talk to your primary care physician if you experience pain, stiffness, swelling, or discomfort in or around your joints. Your doctor may refer you to a physician that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis.