As you get older, you may start to “feel it.” Your knees start to get a little creaky, or your shoulder hurts every time you reach up to get a cup from the upper cabinet. You think it may be arthritis, but you’re not sure what type of arthritis it is.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is an informal way of referring to more than 100 types of joint diseases that affect 53 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States. A joint is an area of the body where two bones come together. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint.
There are many different types of arthritis, but here is a list of the most common types, how they develop, and what you can do for pain relief.
Types of Arthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA)
This type of arthritis is referred to as “wear and tear.” It develops as you get older. As you age, your cartilage degenerates. Using the joint can cause pain, stiffness and swelling.
Osteoarthritis is heredity, but obesity also increases the risk. In fact, after aging, obesity is the most significant risk factor for osteoarthritis of the knees.
There is no medical treatment for this type of arthritis, but researchers are testing the effects of stem cells. Losing weight and exercising can provide pain relief.
Types of Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. This type of arthritis is caused by inflammation in the tissue that normally produces lubrication fluid for your affected joints.
Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling and redness in the joints. There is no known cause, but researchers think smoking may play a role.
There is no cure.
Types of Arthritis: Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs in some people with psoriasis. This type of arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and symptoms vary from person to person.
Researchers still aren’t sure what causes psoriatic arthritis, but, 40% of people who have it, have a family member with psoriasis or arthritis, suggesting heredity may play a role.
It too, is characterized by pain, stiffness and swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are typically used as an initial treatment. If your arthritis does not respond, your doctor will prescribe anti-rheumatic drugs. But researchers are working on new treatment plans.
Types of Arthritis: Fibromyalgia
The literal translation of the word fibromyalgia is pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. According to the American College of Rheumatology, it affects 2 to 4 percent of people.
This type of arthritis affects women more often than men.
The cause of fibromyalgia is also not clear, although it may run in families.
Types of Arthritis: Gout
Gout is your body reacting to irritating crystal deposits in your joints. These crystals are caused by having too much uric acid in your bloodstream.
This leads to an intense inflammation that includes:
Your rheumatologist can prescribe uric acid-lowering medications to treat this type of arthritis.
If you think you may have one of the five most common types of arthritis you should see your primary care physician. If you don’t have one and want to learn the important differences between primary care and family medicine physicians, download our free guide “Choosing a Primary Care Physician.” It will start your journey to providing the arthritis pain relief you need.