All You Need to Know About Arthritis: Types, Symptoms, and Diagnoses

Arthritis is a common health problem and it affects older people more than younger individuals. Arthritis is a broad term that covers over 100 diseases. The meaning of the word “arthritis” is “joint inflammation.” Inflammation happens in your body when you have an injury or a disease. It also includes swelling, pain, and stiffness in your body. Inflammation that stays in your body for a long time can lead to arthritis and also tissue damage. The bones of your joints are protected by a layer called cartilage.

Cartilage protects your bones and makes sure that your joints can move without pain. When you suffer from arthritis, the area around your joints becomes inflamed. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and also cause pain while moving. There are several types of arthritis and it can affect in different ways. Some types of arthritis affect the skin, while others affect internal organs.

According to reports, 1 out of every 5 adults suffers from some type of arthritis. It can happen to anyone, but it’s more common in old age. 

Types of Arthritis

There are many types of Arthritis, but instead of learning about all the types, you should learn about the most common types of arthritis. Here’s a simple breakdown:

1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and it affects more people than any other type. It causes cartilages on either end of the joints to wear away, which prevents the cushioning, which in turn causes your bones to rub against each other. This can cause you to have pain in your knees, hips, or fingers. 

The degeneration of the cartilage protecting your joints happens naturally due to old age. This is also the reason why Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. In some cases, Osteoarthritis can happen at a young age due to an injury or disease. It can happen in almost any joint, but it mostly happens in weight-bearing joints. 

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is also a common type of arthritis and it can happen in any part of your body, but most of the time it impacts hands, wrists, and knees. With Rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system of your body mistakenly attacks the joints and causes them to swell up. The inflammation then spreads to nearby joints and causes more cartilage to wear away. In some less common but severe cases of Rheumatoid arthritis, it can affect other parts of the body, such as skin, eyes, and nerves. 

3. Gout

Gout is a more painful type of arthritis. It happens when the body can’t get rid of a natural acid such as uric acid. The excess uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints that cause inflammation and a lot of pain. Gout affects areas like the big toe, knee, and wrist joints. 

Common Reasons for Arthritis

There are several types of arthritis and the reasons for arthritis are fairly unknown. Several researchers are trying to figure out the role of genetics and lifestyle and their relation with developing arthritis. Several things can increase your risk for arthritis, such as:

1. Age

Age is the biggest reason for arthritis. As you grow older, your joints face wear and tear. Developing arthritis with old age is natural. While it is common, it doesn’t happen with everyone. 

2. Sex

Gender also plays a vital role in the development of arthritis. According to studies, most types of arthritis are more common in women than men. Gout on the other hand is more common in men than women. 

3. Genes

Some specific types of arthritis are passed down in genes. These types of arthritis include Rheumatoid arthritis. If any of your parents have arthritis then chances are that you’ll end up developing the problem too. 

4. Excess Weight

Being overweight is a huge reason for developing arthritis. When you’re overweight, you put more stress on your weight-bearing joints. This increases the wear and tear risk of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis. 

5. Injuries

A specific type of injury like fractures and ligament injuries can cause joint damage which can then lead to arthritis. 

6. Infection

Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can infect joints and trigger inflammation in joints. If it goes untreated, over time it can lead to arthritis. 

Symptoms of Arthritis

Different types of arthritis have different symptoms that can vary from a person to person. Osteoarthritis doesn’t generally have many symptoms except pain in joints. Symptoms of other types of arthritis can include fever, fatigue, rash, and signs of joint inflammation including:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Joint deformity

How to Diagnose Arthritis?

A diagnosis of arthritis is your first step toward starting the treatment. There are several ways of diagnosing arthritis, including:

1. Physical Exam

To successfully diagnose arthritis, your doctor will do a physical exam. During the physical exam, you’ll need to check for swollen joints, tenderness, redness, warmth, and in some cases, it can lead to loss of motion in the joints. 

2. Imaging Tests Like X-Rays

Imaging tests are the best way to diagnose inflammation in your joints. More than diagnoses, they can also tell you what kind of arthritis you have. These rays are used to diagnose osteoarthritis, often showing a loss of cartilage, bone spurs, and bone rubbing against bone.

3. Test Your Joint Fluid

Another way to diagnose arthritis is by testing your joint fluid. This is done by joint aspiration (using a needle to draw a small sample of fluid from the joints). If your doctor suspects infectious arthritis as a complication of some other disease, then the best way to test is by testing a sample of joint fluid. This will confirm the process and how it will be treated. 

4. Test Your Blood or Urine

Blood tests can tell your doctor what kind of arthritis you actually have. Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis include one test for antibodies called rheumatoid factors (RF), which most people who suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis have in their blood. Although RF may also be present in other disorders.

A newer test for rheumatoid arthritis that measures levels of antibodies in the blood (called the anti-CCP test) is more specific and tends to be higher only in people who will get more severe rheumatoid arthritis. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *