Arthritis exists in many forms, and the cause and severity of symptoms can vary greatly depending on the specific type that a person has. People sometimes become confused about this disease and the problems it causes because they’re unaware that several different forms of it exist. We focus on the three most common types below.
The most important characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis is that it is an autoimmune disorder. Instead of protecting the body by fighting off harmful antibodies, the immune system of someone with rheumatoid arthritis attacks his or her joints instead. It’s difficult to pinpoint a cause for rheumatoid arthritis as doctors believe it occurs due to a complex interaction between environmental, hormonal, and genetic factors. Certain lifestyle factors can play a role as well, such as smoking and not maintaining a healthy body weight.
With this type of arthritis, the symptoms can come on suddenly and grow progressively worse over a matter of weeks. The most common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, fever and fatigue. Symptoms appear equally on both sides of the body.
Osteoarthritis, which usually occurs later in life, is a degenerative disease rather than an autoimmune disorder. Degenerative means that the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons wear down over time. Although it can cause inflammation, the unique factor about osteoarthritis is that gradually destroys the cartilage present in bone.
Genetics is one known cause of this type of disease. A person who suffers it inherits the likelihood of premature deterioration of the cartilage. Repetitive motions, such as typing and working on a manufacturing assembly line, can put pressure on joints that ultimately results in the wearing down of cartilage.
With osteoarthritis, symptoms often appear on just one side of the body. Stiffness in the morning lasts approximately 30 minutes while pain in the joints typically occurs in the knees, fingers or hands. Pain could reach the hips and spine as well.
Psoriatic arthritis, commonly abbreviated PsA, is challenging to diagnose. Many people receive a wrong diagnosis of osteoarthritis, gout or rheumatoid arthritis because of this. The most typical way to identify PsA is to look at which joints it affects as well as the presence of psoriasis in the same areas. This form of arthritis usually strikes the joints that bear the most weight, including the hips, knees, neck and spine. It’s common for symptoms to first show up in the small joints of the fingers and toes. The most common causes of PsA include genetic inheritance, stress, medications and a previous viral or bacterial infection.
The most typical way to identify this type of arthritis is when the patient presents with psoriasis on the skin. Common treatment approaches include reducing pain and inflammation during flare-ups. We encourage you totalk to your doctor if you need more information about how to pursue care for your arthritis condition. You may also contact the Arthritis Center of Lexington at 859-254-7000.