While arthritis is very common (more than 53 million people in the U.S. currently live with it), most people don’t know much about the disease, says development manager of the mid-Atlantic region of the Arthritis Foundation, Caitlin Roberts, who has had a form of arthritis since she was 23.
A few facts:
- Most common in women and seniors.
- 300,000 children in the U.S. have juvenile arthritis.
- It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
- Symptoms can be intermittent or chronic, consistent or progress over time.
- The effects of arthritis may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often can only be detected through an X-ray.
- In addition to damaging joints, some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin.
Below is information about just a handful of the more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions:
Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage on the end of your bones wears away and bone starts rubbing against bone. This causes pain, swelling and stiffness, and over time, joints can even lose strength. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an ACL tear, for example).
When your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints with uncontrolled inflammation, inflammatory arthritis can result. Rheumatoid and psoriatic are two examples. A combination of genetics and environmental factors, such as smoking, can trigger autoimmunity and, as a result, inflammatory arthritis.
A bacterium, virus or fungus that enters the joint can also cause inflammation. Prompt treatment with antibiotics will often resolve the infection that results, but sometimes can become chronic. Causes include salmonella, shigella, chlamydia, gonorrhea and hepatitis C.
Metabolic Arthritis (Gout)
Uric acid will sometimes build up in the body and form needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden attacks of pain, redness and swelling. A high uric acid level in the body can result from many factors, including medications; overuse of alcohol; certain high-protein foods such as anchovies, sardines and liver; renal insufficiency; and genetics.
To learn about other types of arthritis, as well as treatments, practical tips for daily living, and more, visit arthritis.org.
Let us know how arthritis has affected your life.