common types of arthritisThe term arthritis encompasses several types of disorder of the body where the joints of the body are targeted leading to inflammation and pain. The word itself comes from the Greek words arthro meaning joint and itis meaning inflammation. Each form has a slightly different cause and displays a variety of differing symptoms so it would be wise to differentiate between the different types for a better understanding of the condition.

In any case, while there are differences, all forms of arthritis have one common feature and that is joint pain. In this article I want to take a look a the different forms and explain them here. They are osteoarthritis which is most common form, rheumatoid arthritis, infectious arthritis, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and gout.

Osteoarthritis

Being the most common form of the disease, we’ll take a look at this form first. It is usually characterized by cartilage breakdown caused by age and general wear and tear. When this occurs in the joints, both bone ends begin to rub together causing friction and further damage. This results in the sufferer experiencing stiffness, pain, loss of mobility and the typical swelling that characterizes this condition.

It is generally found in the weight bearing joints including the spine, hips, knees and ankles and the severity of the condition can be exacerbated by the sufferer being overweight or obese as there is far more weight for those joints to have to carry. There are several known causes of this form of the disease, such as the result of obesity, genetic heredity, injury or simply old age.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is the second most prevalent form of the disease and one that can strike at almost any age. In this form, the joints are initially attacked by excess uric acid in the blood stream which is attracted to the alkali soft tissue that protects the joints, known as the synovial membrane or synovium. As this acid neutralizes when it comes into contact with the alkali tissue, it starts to form a hard shell like eggshell around the joint. This creates pain in the joint which is reacted to by the body’s own defenses.

The auto-immune system swings into action and attacks the uric acid shell believing it to be an alien intruder in the body. This reaction by the immune system is what causes the inflammation to occur.

Infectious Arthritis

This form can be caused by a virus, bacterial or fungal infection. These invading organisms can thrive in the body and make their home in the joints. This can then trigger the immune system to attack the intruder, initiating the typical inflammatory response. This then causes the loss of joint function in the infected joints accompanied by fever.

Juvenile Arthritis

This form of the disease is actually a general term that is used for any kind of arthritis that affects children of any age up to the age of sixteen years. The cause in such young people is still largely unknown, although there is a growing number of sufferers in line with the explosion of fast food and junk food consumption.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis happens to be the most common form of this type, lending more weight to the belief that it is mainly due to poor diet. It is typified by swelling in the toes, ankles, elbows and occasionally the shoulders and is accompanied by great pain. Other symptoms of this form of the disease include chills and intermittent fever as well as in some cases a body rash.

Psoriatic Arthritis

This is another type of arthritis which occurs with people who also have the skin condition known as psoriasis. This disorder can set itself up in the toes and fingers. It produces rough, scaly and red patched that can also appear on the elbows, knees and neck. It is believed to be stress related, although there is little evidence from research to support the theory.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This type of the condition is typified by a chronic spinal inflammation. When this strikes, the vertebrae grow together causing the spine to become rigid. Heredity factors may be attributed to the cause, but in general there is little known about how it manifests.

Gout

Lastly, gout is a severe form of the disease that has traditionally been associated with poor diet and excess consumption of very rich food and alcohol. More recent studies have revealed that the typical view is not completely correct and in fact gout can strike anyone with a poor diet linked with hereditary instances.

Its root cause is similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis where there is an excess if uric acid in the blood stream. It differs from this form of the disease in that instead of the acid forming a hard shell in the joints, it crystallizes causing extremely sharp pain. The immune system comes to the rescue and floods the area with histamines that cause the painful swelling that can often last for several days or even weeks in chronic cases.

As the levels of uric acid in the blood reduce below a certain level, the crystals are flushed from the joints and the swelling abates. A further attack can be triggered at any time the uric acid levels rise again so it is important to identify what is causing the excess uric acid and take steps to control it.

These are the most common forms of the disease and by understanding the differences, it will be easier to read the other articles in this section of the website and have the right perspective.