Since May is Arthritis awareness month I thought this would be a great post for this week.

I bet you didn’t know that there are more than 100 types of arthritis!!!!  The most common ones are:

Osteoarthritis(OA):  This sometimes is called degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis.  This is the most common chronic condition of the joints, affecting roughly 27 million Americans.  OA can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in hips, knee’s, lower back, and small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe.  It’s the “wear and tear” that happens when your joints are overused.  It usually happens with age, but it can also come from joint injuries or obesity, which puts extra stress on your joints.  Joints that bear weight – such as your hips, knees, spine and feet – are the most common places that are affected. However you don’t feel sick or have fatigue that comes with some other types of arthritis.

What happens with this type is you lose your body’s shock absorber. In normal joints, a firm, rubbery material called cartilage covers the end of each bone. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion and acts as a cushion between the bones. In OA, the cartilage breaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the joint. As OA worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs. Bits of bone or cartilage may chip off and float around in the joint. In the body, an inflammatory process occurs and cytokines (proteins) and enzymes develop that further damage the cartilage. In the final stages of OA, the cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone leading to joint damage and more pain.

Symptoms: Could depend on which joint or joints are affected.  You may have:

  • Deep, aching pain
  • Trouble dressing, combing hair, gripping things, bending over, squatting, or climbing stairs. depending on which joints are involved
  • Morning stiffness for less than an hour
  • Pain when walking
  • Stiffness after resting

Your joint may be:

  • Warm to the touch
  • Swollen and harder to move
  • Unable to move through a full range of motion

Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA): is an autoimmune disease.  That means the immune system attacks parts of the body, especially the joints. That leads to inflammation, which can cause severe joint damage if you don’t treat it. About 1 out of every 5 people who have RA get lumps on their skin called rheumatoid nodules. These often form over joint areas that receive pressure, such as over knuckles, elbows, or heels.  Doctor’s don’t know exactly what causes RA.  Some experts believe the immune system becomes “confused” after infection with a bacteria or virus and starts to attack your joints. This battle can spread to other areas of the body.

Systems:  can come on gradually or start suddenly.  They’re often more sever than with OA.  You may feel pain and stiffness and have swelling in your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, jaw and neck.  RA usually affects multiple joints.  The stiffness that usually starts in the morning may later last for hours or even most of the day. You may also feel fatigued and notice that your appetite is down and you’ve lost weight. RA can also affect other organs including the heart, lungs and eyes.

Psoriatic Arthritis: People with this condition have inflammation of the skin(psoriasis) and joints.

Psoriasis causes patchy, raised, red, and white areas of inflamed skin with scales. It usually affects the tips of the elbows and knees, the scalp, the navel, and skin around the genital areas or anus.   Only about 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis will also get psoriasis arthritis.

What happens: This type of arthritis usually starts between ages 30 and 50, but it can start as early as childhood. It’s equally common among men and women. The skin disease(psoriasis) usually shows up first.

Symptoms:  Psoriatic arthritis can swell the fingers and toes. People who have it often have fingernails that are pitted or discolored, too.  In some people, only one joint or a few joints are affected. For example, you could have it in only one knee. Sometimes it affects the spine or just the fingers and toes.

  • Joint symptoms may signal a serious type of arthritis that can cause permanent joint damage if treatment is delayed. Know what to watch for so you can take action.

If you are having joint symptoms that cause concern, there are good reasons to see a doctor for an evaluation and diagnosis.