The Five Most Common Forms of Arthritis

What does it mean when you have arthritis? Imagine that the cartilage in your body-that soft yet pliable natural cushioning-begins to break down. Without this natural form of protection, your joints would no longer be protected against the pounding of everyday life. The wear and tear would be too much, and your joints would begin to suffer. You will probably experience some kind of pain, stiffness, swelling, and even loss of mobility. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Here is a quick overview on the five most common forms of arthritis.

1. Osteoarthritis: This is by far the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops as a result of the continual wear and tear experienced by the cartilage that surrounds our joints. As the cartilage gradually breaks down, the joints are no longer cushioned and protected. They may become stiff, swollen, and painful to the touch. Osteoarthritis usually becomes obvious around middle age. It is a gradual progressive disease, in which symptoms worsen over time. However, osteoarthritis may also be the result of injury. Most patients with osteoarthritis experience the worse symptoms in the areas of the hips, knees, fingers, and the spine. Osteoarthritis is very common. It is estimated that up to 90 per cent of all people over 60 will develop some form of this condition. The symptoms of osteoarthritis can range from very mild to severe. In general, men experience the brunt of their symptoms in the knees and hips while women tend to suffer more in their fingers.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: This condition is different from most other types of arthritis conditions in that it is a disease of the autoimmune system. The bodies’ own immune system attacks its own joints and cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the peripheral joints rather than smaller areas of the body like the hands, feet, and arms. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the vital organs in more advanced cases. About 2.5 million people are affected with this form of arthritis. The average age for onset is middle age, usually between 40to 50 years. Women are at a greater risk for developing this form of arthritis.

3. Seronegative Arthritis: These are a class of arthritis disorders that manifest symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis, but the patient does not test positive for that condition, or osteoarthritis. Seronegative arthritis disorders tend to be related to skin disorders. These may include psoriasis, disorders of the immune system, and intestinal disorders.

4. Gout: This is a form of arthritis cause by the overproduction of uric acid in the body. The uric acid creates small crystals that may be felt beneath the surface of the skin. Gout affects about half a million people in the united States, and it is much more common among men. Gout usually affects one joint of the time, and it commonly strikes in the big toe.

5. Infective arthritis: This form of arthritis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and infects the joints. Infective arthritis is usually the result of a wound or injury that becomes infected. Illness may also cause it, including the mumps and chicken pox.