Millions of Americans suffer from one of these conditions that cause arthritis

When thinking of arthritis, many people only think of the most common type, osteoarthritis. But there are more than 100 forms of this painful disease that affect millions of Americans every day.

The list below covers the five most common types of arthritis. If the symptoms you are experiencing sound similar to one of the descriptions listed below, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with BICMD. Getting ahead of developing symptoms can make a huge difference in the quality of life of arthritis sufferers.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting approximately 44 million Americans over the age of 50.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear that happens to joints with use and age. Osteoarthritis is most likely to appear in joints that bear the weight of the body, like the knee arthritis, hip arthritis, feet and spine, joints that see repetitive use every day, such as the fingers and elbows.

With osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions the joints gradually breaks down. Cartilage acts as a slippery shock absorber that provides padding to the joints and allows the bones of a joint to slide easily with movement. When the cartilage starts to wear away, pain, grinding, and loss of mobility are the result.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis symptoms tends to come on gradually, worsening over time. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain – With movement and sometimes without
  • Stiffness – Joints with osteoarthritis are particularly stiff first thing in the morning or after long periods of inactivity
  • Tenderness – Joints with osteoarthritis can be tender to the touch.
  • Grating sensation – When the cartilage wears down in the joints, the bones can grate together during movement. Not only can sufferers feel the grating sensation, sometimes they even report hearing the grinding of the bones.
  • Loss of range of motion – As the joints become stiff, patients may not be able to achieve the same range of motion as before.
  • Swelling – Inflammation of the joint is a common symptom of osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by dramatic inflammation of the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect more than the joints, as well. In some sufferers, Rheumatoid arthritis can also damage the skin, eyes, heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, particularly the lining of the joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, where the cartilage within the joint is worn away, rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of the joints, which causes painful swelling and eventually leads to bone loss and deformity in the joints.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

  • Warm, swollen joints – The inflammation characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling in the joints that radiates heat. This heat can sometimes be felt through the skin.
  • Tenderness – The joints may be tender to the touch.
  • Joint stiffness – Stiffness may be worse in the morning and after periods of inactivity.
  • Fatigue, fever and loss of appetite – As an autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis affects the entire body in multiple ways.

Psoriatic Arthritis  

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis happens when the body’s immune system attacks the healthy cells of the joints. That immune system attack causes the overproduction of skin cells characteristic of psoriasis, and it also causes inflammation of the joints in psoriatic arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis is thought to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Sometimes if a person has inherited a gene for psoriatic arthritis, something like physical trauma or an infection may cause the gene to be activated, leading to symptoms of psoriatic arthritis.

Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis can range from mild to severe and may alternate through periods of remission. About 10-30% of people with psoriasis will get psoriatic arthritis.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis

  • Joint swelling – Sometimes on only one side of the body.
  • Swollen fingers and toes – Painful swelling can occur in the fingers and toes of people with psoriatic arthritis.
  • Foot pain – If psoriatic arthritis attacks the points where the tendons and ligaments attach to the bones of the feet, sufferers may feel pain in the heel or sole of the foot.
  • Low back pain – Psoriatic arthritis can cause a condition called spondylitis, in which painful inflammation occurs between the vertebrae and in the joints between the spine and the pelvis.

Gout

Once known as a disease of kings, gout is the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints of the big toe or the foot. These crystals cause intense pain for sufferers. Gout pain often comes on suddenly. People who suffer from gout often report being woken up in the night with excruciating pain in the big toe joint, merely from the pressure of the sheets resting on the toes.

Gout was once called the disease of kings because it is most often caused or exacerbated by a diet high in red meat, seafood, organ meats, and alcohol – all foods once easily accessible only by royalty.

The purines found in these foods, when processed by the body, cause an increase in uric acid in the blood. This flood of uric acid can overload the function of the kidneys, leading to uric acid buildup in the joints.

Symptoms of gout

  • Intense, burning pain – Most often of the joint of the big toe.
  • Lingering discomfort after a gout attack subsides – From a few days to a few weeks.
  • Swelling and redness of the joint
  • Tenderness of the joint
  • Limited range of motion

Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints, kidneys, brain, blood, heart and lungs. The most distinctive sign of lupus is a telltale facial rash that resembles a butterfly shape across the nose and cheeks. Some lupus suffers do not experience this rash.

Lupus patients tend to have periods of mild or no symptoms followed by episodes, or flares, when their symptoms increase in intensity for a certain amount of time. Lupus episodes can be brought on by sunlight, infections, and certain medications. The cause of lupus is unknown, though it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms of lupus

Symptoms of lupus vary widely from patient to patient. Some patients may not experience many symptoms, while others experience multiple symptoms of varying severity.

  • Fatigue – As an autoimmune disease, lupus often strains the patient’s body into a state of ongoing fatigue.
  • Joint pain and stiffness – Inflammation of the joints caused by lupus leads to pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • Skin lesions – Often caused by sensitivity to the sun.
  • Unexplained fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Confusion and memory loss