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February 17, 2020

What to know about arthritis

Types, causes, symptoms, and treatments

Illness Arthritis

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Young woman with pain in wrist Anut21ng /

Most of us know someone with arthritis or live with it ourselves. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that its prevalence is only going to grow. Between 2013 and 2015, approximately 22.7 percent (54.4 million) of adults were diagnosed with arthritis, with a higher prevalence in women than men, according to National Health Interview Survey data.

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and they all have their unique set of challenges. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of arthritis, the causes and symptoms, and the forms of treatment available.

Types of arthritis

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. With osteoarthritis, a degenerative form of arthritis, the cartilage at the end of your bones break down. While it’s more common as we get older, it can also be brought on by an injury or joint infection.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease where the immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule called the synovial membrane. Left unchecked, it can destroy all the cartilage and bone within the joint.

Other common types of arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and septic arthritis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the spine. When left untreated it can lead to some of the vertebrae fusing together.

Juvenile arthritis affects almost 300,000 kids in the U.S. and the most common form is juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis is another autoimmune disease that attacks tissue in the body causing swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints and surrounding tissue. People living with psoriatic arthritis also experience extreme fatigue.

Sometimes an infection can trigger arthritis in your body as well. Reactive arthritis is brought on by certain bacterial infections like chlamydia and salmonella. Septic arthritis occurs when an infection from another part of the body travels through the bloodstream infecting a joint or joints. Sometimes an injury can also be the precipitating factor. Infants and older adults are at the highest risk for septic arthritis.

Identifying symptoms

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are four major signs or symptoms that suggest a possible arthritis diagnosis:

  1. Pain (constant or it can come and go)
  2. Swelling (doesn’t occur with all arthritis types)
  3. Stiffness in the joints (beyond normal morning stiffness)
  4. Difficulty moving the joint

If you feel like you might have arthritis, keep a journal of your symptoms and then schedule an evaluation. Because arthritis is a complex condition with many different types, it can sometimes take time to determine the right diagnosis. Besides your primary care doctor, you may also need to see a rheumatologist, a pain specialist, and an orthopedic doctor.

Treating arthritis

Because there is currently no cure for arthritis, treatment is primarily focused on relieving symptoms and improving mobility.

Your doctor may prescribe painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin or ibuprofen), and creams or ointments with menthol or capsaicin to disrupt pain signals. Corticosteroids or steroid hormones can also help to reduce inflammation in the body. For rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and biologic response modifiers are typically prescribed.

If you think you might have arthritis, schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.

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