Contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not a disease. Rather, “it is an informal way of referring to joint pain and disease,” according to the Arthritis Foundation. In fact, there are more than 100 types of arthritis, affecting people of all ages, races, and genders.
While many different types of arthritis exist, these five forms seem to be the most prevalent.
Osteoarthritis is by far the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 27 million adults. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your joints breaks down, leaving your bones to rub against each other. Signs of osteoarthritis include stiffness, swelling, and a crunching feeling when you move your joints.
More than 1 million people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease. This means that a malfunction in your body causes your immune system to attack your joints, rather than protect them. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint in your body, but it is most commonly found in the wrist, hands, and fingers.
Fibromyalgia affects more than just your joints; it can also cause chronic fatigue, memory loss, and mood changes. Fibromyalgia creates “tender points” that are usually located in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, or legs. The pain caused by these tender points can range from moderate to severe. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include headaches and irritable bowel syndrome.
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or lupus for short, is a disease that can damage your joints, blood vessels, heart, kidneys, lungs, and brain. Like rheumatoid arthritis, it is an autoimmune disease, meaning it is caused by your immune system attacking your own body. Lupus is not contagious and most people who suffer from it can lead a full life with proper medical care.
Gout occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood, causing hard, crystal-like deposits to form in your joints. Gout most commonly affects the big toe, but it can also be found in the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Joints that are affected by gout are usually swollen, red, stiff, and hot to the touch. Risk factors for gout include obesity, frequent alcohol consumption, and a meat- or fish-heavy diet.
Do you suspect that you are suffering from one of these, or any other form of arthritis? If you are experiencing joint pain, whether mild or severe, talk to a medical professional. Residents of southern Connecticut can depend on Orthopaedic Specialty Group to accurately diagnose and treat any ailments in their joints. Call (203) 337-2600 today to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed physicians.