Arthritis is a general term that means “joint inflammation.” It causes pain and swelling in one or more of your joints. Although the more common types of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are well known, “arthritis” encompasses a group of more than 100 diseases.
Inflammation is one of the body’s natural responses to disease or injury. Inflammation from arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and movement loss in some patients. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among Americans aged 15 and older.
Treatments vary depending on the type of arthritis. The main goals of arthritis treatments are to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
Some of the types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is also known as degenerative joint disease. It usually develops over the years as people age, although there are occasional exceptions. It inflames the joint’s lining, causing bony changes, deterioration of tendons and ligaments, and a breakdown of cartilage, resulting in pain, swelling, and joint deformity. Osteoarthritis is typically confined to a single joint, where other forms of arthritis usually cause inflammation to many joints of the body at the same time. More than 27 million people in the United States have osteoarthritis.
Post-traumatic arthritis is a common form of osteoarthritis. It is caused by the wearing out of a joint that has had any kind of physical injury. The injury could be from sports, a vehicle accident, a fall, or any other source of physical trauma. Such injuries can damage the cartilage or the bone, changing the mechanics of the joint and making it wear out more quickly. This wearing-out process is accelerated as long as the injury hasn’t healed, as well as by excess body weight.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that a patient’s immune system is overreacting against itself. It occurs in joints on both sides of the body. This disease attacks the joint capsule’s lining, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint. Symptoms include joint pain and swelling, stiffness, and fatigue. An estimated 1.3 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, and it is 2.5 times more common in women than in men.
Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis. It is an autoimmune disease. Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are the main signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. It can affect any part of your body, including your fingertips and spine, and range from relatively mild to severe. In both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, disease flares may alternate with periods of remission. Approximately 2 to 3 percent of the United States population has psoriasis, and up to 30% of them can develop psoriatic arthritis.
Gout is a common form and complex form of inflammatory arthritis. It’s due to an excess buildup of a crystal called uric acid. It’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe. But it’s also found in other joints, including the knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist, and elbow. Gout symptoms may come and go, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flares.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis in children under 16. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can cause persistent joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others have symptoms for many years. Treatment focuses on controlling pain and inflammation, improving function, and preventing damage.