Common types of arthritis explained

Article By: Steph Coelho

Arthritis is a painful rheumatic condition that causes joint inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis that can affect the joints and other areas of the body and cause similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Arthritis is a painful rheumatic condition that causes joint inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis that can affect the joints and other areas of the body and cause similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and stiffness.

There are more than 100Trusted Source different types of arthritis. Some common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

Below, we explore these conditions, as well as other diseases that can present with arthritis. We also discuss potential treatment and when to seek medical guidance.

Symptoms of OA include:

pain and swelling in the joints
joint stiffness
limited range of motion
People often experience OA symptoms in the hips, hands, and knees.

Risk factors
The following increase the likelihood of developing OA:

joint overuse, which can happen due to aging
joint injury
being female
a family history of OA

RA is an autoimmune condition that causes painful swelling and inflammation in the joints. It typically affects the hands, wrists, and feet.

RA does not only affect joints. It can also cause problems in other organs of the body, including the heart, lungs, and eyes.

While some people experience a sustained progression of the disease, the intensity of symptoms usually comes and goes. Symptoms may include:

pain, stiffness, and swelling in several joints at once
unexplained weight loss
Another characteristic of RA is symmetrical involvement. This means pain and signs of inflammation occur on both sides of the body and in the same joints.

RA can cause lasting tissue damage, which can lead to:

recurring pain
destruction of joints
deformity or incorrect alignment of joints
limited joint mobility
Some people who have RA may also need assistance walking.

Risk factors
Some RA risk factors include:

being older
being female
having specific genes
smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke early in life
having never given birth
having obesity

PsA is an autoimmune condition.

Symptoms of PsA include:

swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints
extreme fatigue
nail changes
PsA joint involvement is asymmetric, affecting different joints on either side of the body.

This type of arthritis can develop in people with a skin condition called psoriasis, which causes scaly, flushed, or silvery patches of skin. These patches can look different depending on a person’s skin colour.

Risk factors
Researchers still do not fully understand what causes this form of arthritis. However, having a family history of PsA may increase a person’s risk of developing this condition.

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes painful swelling, often in a single joint at a time.

Symptoms of gout can flare up and go away quickly. They include:

pain and swelling
flushed skin
a joint that feels hot to the touch
Swelling is common in the big toe. Often, it also affects the knee or ankle joint.

Risk factors
A person may be at higher risk of developing gout if they:

are male
have overweight or obesity
take certain medications, such as diuretics or beta-blockers
drink alcohol
follow a diet rich in purines or fructose
Health conditions that may lead to gout include:

heart failure
high blood pressure
kidney disease
Gout may also occur due to metabolic syndrome, which is not a condition in itself. It refers to a number of characteristics, diseases, or habits that can make a person more likely to experience other health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

This chronic illness is an autoimmune condition that commonly affects females aged 15–44 years.

Lupus is not a type of arthritis in itself. However, arthritis is one of the most common symptoms of this condition.

One symptom of lupus is the characteristic butterfly rash that can develop on the face. Other rashes can also develop on the arms, hands, and face. Rashes can worsen after sun exposure.

While symptoms may differ from person to person, they generally include:

joint and muscle pain
fever during flare-ups
hair loss
chest pain
kidney issues
sores in the mouth and nose
chronic fatigue
problems with memory
eye irritation, dryness, and inflammation
cold sensitivity with colour changes of the hands and feet

Juvenile arthritis
Juvenile arthritis, also known as childhood arthritis, affects children or even infants.

Symptoms of juvenile arthritis include:

joint pain and swelling
joint stiffness
a rash
eye inflammation
loss of appetite
difficulty carrying out daily activities
There is no known cause of childhood arthritis. It appears to affect children regardless of race, age, or background.

Reaching a definitive diagnosis may take time, because many types of arthritis are similar or resemble other conditions.

Typically, a doctor will first check a person’s medical and family history. They will also ask about symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may run tests such as:

imaging tests, including X-rays, MRI scans, or ultrasound scans
nerve tests
blood tests
joint fluid tests
skin or muscle biopsies
Arthritis management depends on the type of arthritis. There are different forms of treatment available.

Medical treatment for arthritis may involve:

over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for relief of pain and swelling caused by inflammation
corticosteroid injections administered by a physician
topical pain relief creams and gel
disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs
Surgery may not be necessary for everyone with arthritis. However, it can benefit certain complications of arthritis that result in malalignment of joints and functional limitations due to damaged joints. It can also help with intractable pain, which is when a person experiences pain that is difficult to treat or manage.

Common surgeries for arthritis include:

foot, ankle, hand, or wrist surgery
hip or knee replacement surgery
Physical therapy
Physical therapy can be a great option for people with arthritis. It can help ease pain or increase activity.

Behavioural changes that can help with arthritis may include:

getting regular exercise
quitting smoking, if applicable
reaching or maintaining a moderate weight
eating a healthful diet
Home remedies
Some people find certain home remedies helpful in relieving pain and swelling from certain types of arthritis. These may include:

hot and cold therapy
mindfulness strategies, such as meditation

When to contact a doctor
If a person has experienced joint symptoms that last more than 3 days, they should seek treatment from a healthcare professional.

Similarly, if a person has joint symptoms at different times within a month, they should also contact a doctor.

Living with arthritis
Medications and other treatments can help a person manage chronic symptoms, such as pain and swelling.

Pain will come and go with many types of arthritis. However, even if the pain resolves, a person should still seek treatment.

It is important to treat arthritis early. If left untreated, some types of arthritis may worsen over time and cause permanent disability.

Arthritis is a painful condition that causes joint inflammation.

Different types of arthritis can cause similar symptoms. It is vital to get the correct diagnosis, as it can help determine most effective treatment options.

The right treatment may also prevent future complications and help a person live a more active life.


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