Arthritis isn’t a single disease. The term refers to joint pain or joint disease. Common arthritis symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and a decrease in range of motion in joints. Symptoms vary from mild to severe and may come and go. Arthritis can also cause permanent joint changes. These may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can be seen only on X-rays.
Types of Arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) is by far the most common type of arthritis. It can damage almost any joint but mainly occurs in the hands, spine, hips and knees. OA is a disease of the whole joint, not just cartilage. Bones in affected joints become weaker. The connective tissue that holds the joint together deteriorates and inflammation damages the joint lining.
- Autoimmune Inflammatory Arthritis:
In inflammatory arthritis, the immune system is overactive. It attacks healthy tissue, including joints in the spine, hands and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common form of autoimmune inflammatory arthritis. Something in the environment like a virus, stress or smoking, for example, can trigger it in people who are genetically predisposed. With autoimmune and inflammatory types of arthritis, early diagnosis and treatment are critical.
- Infectious Arthritis:
A bacterial, viral or fungal infection triggers infectious arthritis. It usually starts when an infection from another part of the body travels to a joint, usually the knee. Symptoms like swelling, pain and fever can be sudden and intense, but treatment with antibiotics or antifungals usually clears the infection pretty quickly.
- Gout (Metabolic Arthritis):
Metabolic or gouty arthritis — commonly known as gout — results from a buildup in joints of painful uric acid crystals.
Most people with high uric acid levels never develop gout and many gout patients have normal uric acid. Certain factors in addition to uric acid might trigger gout due to damage from OA.