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Arthritis is very common; there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. You probably know that arthritis affects your joints. But you may not know that other parts of your body, such as your skin, eyes, heart, kidneys and lungs, may also be affected by some types of arthritis. People of all ages can have arthritis, and it’s the leading cause of disability in the U.S. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

Arthritis Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion

Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes.

4 Types of Arthritis

The various types of arthritis can be broken down into four main categories:

Degenerative arthritis

This is the most common type of arthritis, also called osteoarthritis. When cartilage wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and irritation. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury. If symptoms become severe, joint replacement may be necessary.

Inflammatory arthritis

Sometimes the immune system attacks joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity.

Infectious arthritis

Organisms can enter a joint and cause inflammation. These organisms can come from food poisoning or contamination, sexually transmitted diseases of blood-to-blood infections. Timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.

Metabolic Arthritis

Sometimes uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, causing extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.

Arthritis Treatments

Treatment options for arthritis vary based on the type and severity of the condition. These may include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Topical pain-relieving creams and ointments
  • Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Braces
  • TENS, known as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, a procedure that uses light electrical pulses to change the way pain is felt
  • Newer biologic medications for rheumatoid arthritis
  • Surgery, if symptoms are severe or don’t respond to other treatments

If you think you may have arthritis, contact the orthopedic specialists at Summa Health for a consultation.

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Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.