Arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Arthritis is commonly caused by the cartilage protecting the bones of a joint wearing down over time, or an inflammation in the lining of the joints, which in addition to pain, may result in redness, heat, swelling and loss of movement in the affected joints. Over time, joints affected by arthritis may become severely damaged. There are different types of arthritis, and depending on the cause, may affect people of different ages. Some types of arthritis may cause damage to other organs of the body in addition to the joints.
Types of Arthritis
There are several different types of arthritis that can affect people of various ages with different symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It develops as the cartilage protecting the bones of a joint wears down over time. It occurs more frequently in older individuals, however it sometimes develops in athletes from overuse of a joint or after an injury. It commonly affects the fingers, knees, lower back and hips and is often treated with medication and certain forms of exercise and physical therapy. In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be suggested. Osteoarthritis tends to get worse over time.
Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disorder caused by the body attacking its own healthy tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, and in addition to joint pain and inflammation, it sometimes affects other organs of the body including the skin, eyes, heart, lungs and blood vessels. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men and it usually develops in individuals over the age of 40. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing joint damage and commonly includes medication to suppress the immune system as well as steroids to reduce pain and inflammation. In severe cases, surgery to repair tendons or replace joints may be recommended.
Gout is a form of arthritis that cause painful, swollen, red and inflamed joints. Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid within the body that forms crystals within the joints and surrounding tissues. This build-up of crystals causes acute pain and swelling that commonly affects the joint of big toe, but can also occur in the feet, ankle, knees and hands. The symptoms of gout often appear suddenly and without warning, often in the middle of the night. Treatment for the symptoms of gout may include anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroids. Other medication may also be prescribed to block acid production within the body.
Psoriatic Arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects people who have psoriasis, a skin condition characterized by red and scaly patches of skin. Psoriatic arthritis is considered an autoimmune disorder and causes joint inflammation, stiffness and pain that may affect the fingers, toes, feet and lower back. Treatment for psoriatic arthritis may include inflammatory medication, steroids and medication to suppress the immune system. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to repair or replace damaged joints.
In addition to medical treatment, some forms of arthritis may respond to lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating a healthy diet and exercise. Heat and cold therapy may also relieve pain and swelling in joints and assistive devices such as canes or walkers may assist individuals with arthritis with mobility.