|How Many Type of Arthritis are There?
There are nearly 200 types of arthritis which have been recognized and over 48 million Americans with some form of arthritis diagnosis. In fact over 50 percent of American adults experience some form of arthritis by the age of 65. Sadly there are also 294,000 children who endure symptoms of juvenile arthritis. Arthritis and related symptoms cost the American economy nearly $128 billion every year in medical care and indirect expenses such as loss of earnings and productivity.
What are the Most Common Types?
Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is considered a 'mechanical' form of arthritis. This means it is related to normal wear and tear of joints or joint damage due an accident or injury. Over time the cartilage which surrounds and cushions the joints wears down causing the bones to become thickened and distorted. This results in painful, restricted joint movement, which is why certain arthritis equipment may be recommended. When the disease finishes its progression, the joints may look knobbly but by this stage pain is usually massively reduced (see arthritis of the hand). In most cases osteoarthritis affects the load-bearing joints, the knees, hands, spine and hips. There is a popular belief that too much exercise can cause osteoarthritis, but this is not true. Exercise, particularly weight bearing exercise like running and fast walking strengthens bones and makes tendons suppler. Primary osteoarthritis is caused by natural wear and tear of cartilage and is linked to age. Secondary osteoarthritis is usually triggered by some trauma, for example joint damage caused by contact sport. The majority of people with osteoarthritis eat too many acid-forming foods, such as meat and dairy products, white bread, cakes, pizzas and cookies. Those with the disease are frequently told to eat fewer nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant (see natural treatment for arthritis). The cause of osteoarthritis is unknown but it used to be considered just wear and tear. More recently it has been accepted that other factors play a role like obesity, genetics and previous injuries. About 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis.
This is a long-term progressive disease which leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissue areas. It commonly affects the wrists, fingers, feet, knees and hands but can also affect other organs in the body. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is unknown but it is considered an autoimmune disease which means the body attacks its own tissues. In most cases inflammation helps to heal the body as it is a sign the body is fighting an infection. With RA the inflammation actually causes damage. RA usually begins slowly with first symptoms appearing as low fever, swollen glands, weakness in the hands and fatigue. Eventually joint pain appears and overtime the joints may lose their range of motion and become deformed. When it is active, known as a flare-up, many people feel quite unwell. The treatment for RA is life long and includes drugs, physical therapy, exercise and possibly even surgery. RA tends to affect more women than men. About 2.1 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis.
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
This is another form of inflammatory arthritis and it begins by affecting the joints of the lower back and pelvis. The joints become stiff and inflamed. If untreated, AS may cause difficulties in back movement as well as severe back pain. The disease can start before the age of 20 and 40, sometimes even in children before the age of 10. It tends to affect men more than women. Treatment usually involves medications and physical therapy, with the option of surgery.
See also our article on: Arthritis treatment and our section on womens health questions.
Lupus is short for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is a chronic autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation in different parts of the body, and not just in the joints. The heart, blood vessels, kidneys, lungs and brain can all be affected. Aches and pains of the joints, and sometimes inflammation are the most common initial signs. Symptoms can also include a characteristic butterfly skin rash, hair loss, fatigue and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). Lupus affects 6 to 9 times more women than men and more commonly affects younger women. Lupus cannot be cured but it can be controlled with medications and physical therapies.
About 2 percent of the white population in American develops a common skin condition called psoriasis, which causes scaly, red patches of skin. In about 10 percent of cases patients develop an associated inflammation of the joints known as psoriatic arthritis. It usually occurs in people after the age of 40 and affects men and women equally. Usually psoriasis precedes arthritis, but not always. In fact there have been cases where people have had arthritis for 20 years before psoriasis even appears.
This inflammatory condition affects the shoulder muscles, upper arms, thighs and buttocks. It rarely appears in people under 50 and most commonly in those over 65. It is usually treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, especially corticosteroids.
Most kinds of arthritis that affects children come under the general umbrella of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). JIA involves swelling and pain in more than one joint for at least 6 weeks. The most common form of JIA is oligo-articular JIA which affects 4 or less joints. Polyarticular JIA affects more than 5 joints and Systemic Onset JIA can affect the whole body. Treatment for children is fairly much the same as it is for adults.
Gout (image) causes arthritic pain when uric acid builds up in the joints. It is a painful condition which normally only affects one joint, usually the big toe, ankle or knee. Pain typically starts at night and is described as an extremely painful throbbing. The joint area appears red and warm and is often too painful to touch. The exact cause is not known although it does often appear in families and to both men and women who drink excessively. Treatment usually involves dietary changes and medications. There were 3 million reported cases of gout in America in 2005.
Extra Article: Read about the causes of arthritis.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
TMJ is a common disorder of the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. Problems in this area can cause difficulties in chewing, headaches, neck pain and ear pain. It can also cause the jawbone to lock or click/pop when you bite. It can also lead to teeth grinding during sleep (bruxism). It has many causes but one is the degeneration of joints (osteoarthritis), a part of normal aging. Where inflammation of the joints has occurred, the cause could be rheumatoid arthritis.
Bursitis is a condition where the fluid filled sacs called bursa between the tendons and skin (or bone) become inflamed. Typically it affects the hips, shoulders, elbows or knees. It can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis, gout, trauma or infection. Treatment involves the use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and rest. The condition can be acute (appears suddenly and symptoms are severe developing quickly) or chronic (persists over a long period of time and does not usually disappear quickly).
Also known as septic arthritis, this is a non-chronic form of arthritis caused by an infection which spreads to the joints through the blood vessels. It is relatively rare and infection can result from a virus, bacteria or fungus. Symptoms include arthritic pain, chills, fever, general weakness, joint inflammation and swelling. Any arthritis caused by infection is highly treatable with the correct medication (in fact, curable!).
Additional Types of Arthritis Conditions
• Achilles tendinitis
• Caplan's syndrome
• Churg-Strauss syndrome
• Drug induced lupus
• Fabry's disease
• Fifth's disease
• Fibromyalgia syndrome
• Freiberg's disease
• Giant cell arteritis
• Hepatitis B surface antigen disease
• Hypermobility syndrome
• Jaccoud's arthropathy
• Kawasaki disease
• Lipoid dermatoarthritis
• Lyme disease
• Myofascial pain syndrome
• Paget's disease of bone
• Popliteal cysts
• Pott's disease
• Raynaud's phenomenon (see why do my hands turn blue?)
• Rheumatic fever
• Shigella arthritis
• Sickle cell arthropathy
• Spinal stenosis
• Sweet's syndrome
• Tuberculosis arthritis
• Viral arthritis
• Whipple's disease
• Arthritis of the Shoulder
• Hip Arthritis
• Arthritis of the Knee