Arthritis affects more than 46 million adults in the United States. Not all cases are the same. In fact, there are more than 100 different types of this painful and disabling disease. Each type requires an individual treatment plan. With the proper diagnosis, you can understand your specific case and the best way to relieve the pain.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain. This is also called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis and affects about 33 million Americans. This form is caused by an overuse of joints and is common in those who have participated in demanding sports or jobs are obese, and the elderly. For athletes and dancers, this can occur earlier in life, especially if there has been previous injury. Osteoarthritis in hands is frequently inherited and tends to begin to impact middle-aged women.
This type of arthritis is most common in joints that bear weight such as the spine, hips, knees and feet. It typically comes on gradually over a long period of time as the cartilage gradually breaks down. As the cartilage is worn away, the joint loses the cushioning that it provided. This loss of cushioning can make joints stiff and painful and may result in inflammation.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis include:
Rheumatoid arthritis is inflammatory and affects more than 1.3 million Americans, 75% of which are women. This is actually an autoimmune disease which means that the immune system attacks part of the body. This can lead to joint damage and deformity.
Unlike Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can start suddenly or come on gradually. Symptoms are often more severe and can cause stiffness and pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite. This form of arthritis is found in the upper body such as hands, wrists, elbows, jaw, neck and shoulders as well as the lower body such as feet, ankles, and knees. Sometimes it will impact just one area, other times it can affect multiple areas. Typically RA is symmetrical and if one hand is inflamed, the other will be as well.
Psoriatic arthritis is inflammation of the joints and skin with patchy raised areas. About 10% of people with psoriasis develop this. It can cause swelling of fingers and toes. Usually only one or a few joints are affected. Psoriatic arthritis typically starts between the ages of 30 and 50 and not discriminating based on sex. The skin disease and joint disease often start separately with the skin disease preceding the arthritis in 80% of patients.