Arthritis refers to joint pain or joint disease and can affect people of all races, genders, and ages. It may be caused by inflammation, which affects the tissue lining of the joints. Inflammation may include swelling, redness, heat, and pain and severe damage of the joints may occur in some types of arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. Here, we will discuss the most common types.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are three of the most common types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system is not working properly. It affects the joints and bones, but it may also affect the internal organs and systems. Osteoarthritis usually comes with age and most often affects the hips, knees, and fingers. At times, it follows an injury to a joint, such as a fall, car accident, or sports injury. Gout, another common form of arthritis, is caused by the formation of crystals in the affected joint. Although the big toe is usually affected, other joints may be affected as well.
The signs and symptoms of arthritis may include pain in your joints, fever, weight loss, rashes, and itchiness. You may have trouble moving. However, these symptoms may be part of another illness. It is very important that you speak with your doctor. He or she will be able to tell you if you have arthritis or a related condition after meeting with you and running diagnostic tests. These tests may include X-rays, bloodwork, and MRIs.
Once your doctor diagnoses the type of arthritis or related condition, he or she should discuss treatment options with you. Treatment for arthritis may include medications to treat the pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Your doctor may also suggest gentle stretching exercises, walking, ice packs, and resting the joint. Some people with arthritis may benefit from hip replacement surgery.
The following organizations provide great information on arthritis, related resources, and research:
- The NIDILRR-funded Center for Enhancing Activity and Participation Among Persons with Arthritis at Boston University conducts research activities that can improve the daily lives of people living with arthritis. Check out their resources on exercise with arthritis, the Active Living with Arthritis podcast series, and more!
- The Arthritis Foundation is a great resource for people with arthritis. It provides basic information on the different types of arthritis, along with tools and resources for living with arthritis. They also include an arthritis resource finder and information on childhood arthritis. The provide information in Spanish as well.
- The American College of Rheumatology provides advocacy for people with rheumatoid arthritis. They also provide a clinical resource area for rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals, along with a professional learning center that includes educational materials, a library full of publications, and various types of resources
- The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Information Clearinghouse at the National Institutes of Health provides a great informational piece on arthritis that includes links to finding clinical trials and journal articles. They also provide arthritis information in Spanish.