Arthritis Types, Symptoms, and Treatment
The question "What is arthritis" is a very complex question as there are over 100 types of arthritis, and the very nature of the condition will give you a sense of its complexity. It refers to inflammation of the joints including the joint lining, bones, cartilage or supporting structures. It may be referred to as degenerative joint disease.
In the United States, over 30 million people live with osteoarthritis, and it is common among adults over 65 but people may develop the disease in any age. The prevalence rises significantly after age 50 in men and after age 40 in women.
The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain:
- Joint stiffness
- Swelling of the joints
- Pain or aching
- Decreased range of motion
This condition may involve one or several joints throughout the body. Osteoarthritis is certainly more common as we age our cartilage becomes more brittle, and it has less capacity to repair itself.
For instance, my husband recently started having a problem with his knees when he gets up in the morning. They're very stiff and painful, but once he gets moving the pain and stiffness ease off. That is a fairly typical description of beginning arthritis.
Other factors that cause arthritis include genetics, weight, previous injury, occupational hazards, some high–level sports or illness and infection. Treatment varies according to the type of arthritis.
Comparison – normal knee, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
More Common Types of Arthritis
Arthritis may be mild, moderate or severe, causing chronic health problems. It is diagnosed by a physical examination, a review of symptoms, possibly some X-rays, and lab tests.
Of the more than 100 different types of arthritis, these are the most common:
- It is also called degenerative arthritis and occurs when the cushioning cartilage and joint breaks down.
- It most commonly affects feet, knees, hips and fingers.
- It affects 16 million Americans, mostly 45 year of age and older.
- The disease is responsible for more trouble walking and stair climbing any other disease, and it is the most common indication for total joint replacement of the hip and knee.
- This is an immune system disease that attacks the lining or synovial membranes of the joints.
- Joint damage can become severe and deforming, plus it involves the whole body, which also causes fatigue, weight loss anemia.
- It can affect the lungs, heart and eyes.
- It affects 2.1 million Americans, three times more women than men.
- It generally means a shorter lifespan due to the possible complications.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis:
- Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness and stiffness of joints causing limited motion.
- Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States, and usually it is rheumatoid arthritis, although there are different levels of severity.
- It affects approximately 300,000 children under the age of 18.
Gout arthritis X-ray
Ankylosing Spondylitis Arthritis Spine Damage
Other Arthritis Types
- It causes sudden severe attacks, usually in big toe.
- It is a metabolic disorder where uric acid builds up in the blood and crystals form in the joints and other places.
- Drugs and attention to diet can control gout.
- 60% of people will have a second attack within a year, but some have chronic gout arthritis.
- It affects 1 million Americans, 70 to 80% are men, with the first attack starting between 40 and 50 years of age.
- This is a chronic inflammatory disease of the spine that can result in fused vertebrae and rigid spine over the years.
- It is primarily a genetic disease and affects more than 2.7 million Americans, usually men between the ages of 16 and 35.
Phil Mickelson –Recently Diagnosed with Psoriatic arthritis
Psoriatic Arthritis in Hand
- Bone and other joint tissue becomes inflamed, and it can affect the whole body.
- It primarily affects the fingers or spine.
- The symptoms are often mild but for some people it can be quite severe.
- Phil Michelson has psoriatic arthritis and his interview appears in the magazine Arthritis Today
- Affects about 160,000 Americans.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus:
- Involves skin, joints, muscles and sometimes internal organs, particularly the kidneys.
- Symptoms usually appear in women of childbearing age but can occur in anyone at any age.
- It can be mild or life-threatening.
- Affects at least 131,000 Americans, 9 to 10 times as many women as men.
Other Types of Arthritis
- Arthritis can develop as a result of infection. For example, bacteria that causes gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage but usually clears up completely with antibiotics.
- Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints and internal organs.
- Fibromyalgia syndrome is a soft tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women.
Arthritis Dietary Suggestions
It is clear that specific nutrients to prevent arthritis needs more research, but enough is known to conclude that the appropriate levels of vitamin C, D, E, antioxidants, Tumeric and Omega-3 fatty acids have protective properties and help reduce inflammation. Also, vitamin D deficiency has been in associated with an increased risk of joint space narrowing and progression of osteoarthritis. An anti-inflammatory diet helps educe pain.
Some other arthritis diet suggestions are to drink green tea, and eat your omega-3 fats foods, which are found in seafood, particularly salmon, and grass–fed beef and chicken. Plus, you can use over-the-counter supplements such as fish oil.
Both of these will help reduce inflammation, and relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Take at least 5 g to 10 g of omega-3 fats per day and a glass or two of green tea should help. Low–carbohydrate diets have also been shown to help curb inflammation in the body.
My Upcoming Surgery
The joints in the fingers of my right hand have been fused due to the osteoarthritis, and one finger is actually out of alignment. I'm having a lot of difficulty functioning using my right hand. When you have arthritis to this degree it makes it difficult to type, for instance, and I drop things frequently. I have a lot of difficulty doing anything that takes much dexterity in my right hand.
I had my left hand operated on four years ago, and it gave me amazing relief. However, it is painful surgery, and recovery takes 6 to 8 weeks with pins through the joints that are being fused. Currently they have improved this particular surgery to make recovery easier.
I also had carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel surgery, which is done by releasing a nerve at the elbow and is the least painful part of this surgery. Cubital tunnel causes pain to run down the outside of your lower arm, making your two smallest fingers numb. I had put the surgery off for over two years. I was glad when it was over and healed. In the meantime I also had physical therapy. As I don't have a drop of ambidextrous blood in me I practiced brushing my teeth with my left hand. The relief and an improved grasp for any project was greatly improved after recovery from the surgery.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
All the forms of arthritis affect millions of people, and it is the very difficult disease due to the pain, stiffness and the limitation of mobility. Osteoarthritis is a common problem as people with arthritis age, particularly women.
I hope you have a better understanding of some of the more common types of arthritis and listed in this article.
The copyright to this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.