Arthritis is a painful disease of the joints that affects more than 50 million adults worldwide. There are more than 100 different variations of arthritis, but most can be grouped into larger categories.
Types of Arthritis
The specific type of arthritis is defined based on the areas of the body affected by arthritis, prior injury of the joint, cause of the arthritis, and the age of the patient. These factors make up four common types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
This first form of arthritis is the most common. Osteoarthritis can be found in any area of the body, but is most often located in the knees, hips, low back, or neck.
Osteoarthritis is degenerative, meaning that it occurs from natural wear and tear of the joint’s cartilage over time. As a person ages, the cartilage between their joints begins to wear down. After much of this cartilage is gone, the joint begins to rub one bone directly against another, often resulting in very intense pain.
Post-Traumatic arthritis is a more specific form of osteoarthritis.
This type of arthritis is caused by the same degeneration of cartilage. However, this wear and tear is worsened by a particular injury to the joint. An example would be knee arthritis following a tear of the meniscus or the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Rheumatoid arthritis differs from osteoarthritis because rather than being solely located in one particular joint, rheumatoid arthritis can also be present throughout the rest of the body. You will find that if rheumatoid arthritis exists in a joint on one side of the body, it will also exist in the same joint on the other side of the body, which means that it will often be present in both knees, both hips, or both shoulders.
As of now, there is no real explanation for the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Many experts point to the proven relationship between autoimmune diseases and inflammation of the joints. It is unclear what exactly propels the immune system to go awry, but evidence suggests that genes, hormones, and environmental factors may play a crucial role.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
This particular form of arthritis is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis with the major difference being that juvenile idiopathic arthritis is found in children rather than adults.
Like rheumatoid arthritis, little is known about the exact cause of juvenile idiopathic arthritis except that it is believed to be linked to an autoimmune or autoinflammatory disease.
Patients usually report the following symptoms of arthritis:
- Soreness/stiffness of the joint
- Limited range of mobility
- Accumulation of fluid around the joint
- Clicking or cracking during movement
- A grating or scraping sensation
- Pain that worsens during or after daily activity
- Fever and rash (specific to juvenile idiopathic arthritis)
Mild Arthritis Treatment Options
For individuals who have just started to experience arthritis symptoms, over-the-counter pain relievers and joint supplements should be able to significantly reduce their pain. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and exercise are also key components in ongoing treatment of arthritis.
Treatment for Severe Cases of Arthritis
If any of the above symptoms are drastically altering your lifestyle or causing severe pain, then you will likely require some form of surgery whether it be a partial knee replacement or a total joint replacement.