There are over 100 different types of arthritis that currently affect more than 46 million people in the U.S. and this figure is predicted to rise to 67 million people by 2030. Every type of arthritis is slightly different and requires modified forms of treatment. This means that an accurate diagnosis is vital if the right treatment is to be used.
These are the main types of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis occurs when you overuse your joints. This can happen if you play a tough sport, if you are obese, if you have sustained an injury or as a result of aging. Osteoarthritis often affects middle-aged women and commonly occurs in the hands and in weight-bearing joints such as the hips, spine, feet and knees. It is nicknamed the “wear and tear” arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens if your immune system isn’t functioning correctly and is an anti-inflammatory form of arthritis. Around 1.3 million Americans have this form or arthritis, and over 75% of them are women. Your joints become inflamed due to the problems with your immune system and this may cause deformities and damage to your joints. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are often more severe than osteoarthritis and can either come on without warning or occur slowly over time.
Psoriatic Arthritis causes inflammation in your joints and also your skin. Psoriasis forms in white and red, raised, patchy areas of inflamed skin with some scaling. It can happen to your scalp, knees, ends of your elbows and your navel. This form of arthritis is a sausage-like swelling of toes and fingers and sometimes it discolors your nails.
It is possible to have it in just one knee or a few fingers or toes. Psoriatic arthritis happens mainly to people between 30-50 years of age, but sometimes it can start during childhood as well. Sometimes “normal” arthritis appears before psoriasis.
Gout happens when crystals form in your joints and this can be quite painful. Gout is caused by your body’s inability to get rid of uric acid; the excess creates crystals within your joints, thus causing severe pain and swelling. Gout is most commonly found in your wrist joints, knees and big toes.
Fibromyalgia doesn’t affect the joints. It creates inflammation and pain that affects your tendons, muscles, ligaments and the soft tissues beneath your skin. Some people have sore spots that are very painful if touched. The symptoms include fatigue, deep muscle pain, depression and sleeplessness. Although the symptoms may come and go, the disease itself is a chronic, long-term one.
General symptoms for arthritis may include: pain when you walk, stiffness when resting for too long, intense pain, swollen joints or joints that are overly warm when you touch them, joint immobility, trouble sitting or bending, stiffness in the morning and trouble picking things up.
Treatment options for arthritis include heat and/or cold compresses, exercise, medications, joint protection and even surgical procedures. It is important to start treatment early, in order to avoid further complications, and to see your doctor immediately if new symptoms appear, or if the pain persists or gets worse during the treatment period.