Arthritis is one of the most common conditions in the world, with an estimated 7% of the global population facing discomfort and stiffness in their joints. While the main symptoms of harmful arthritis are inflammation and tenderness in the joints, many people do not realize that there are over 100 different types of the condition, each one targeting other parts of the body.
Another very common misconception is that harmful arthritis only impacts the elderly. While the condition is certainly more common amongst the older age groups, it can affect anyone of any age. For some individuals, the symptoms may come and go, while others may experience continuous discomfort every time they move, making daily activities incredibly challenging.
If you are experiencing discomfort, inflammation, or stiffness in your joints, then a doctor will be able to diagnose the type of arthritis you have. Some of the most common include:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the world. Typically occurring with age, osteoarthritis develops through natural wear and tear in the joints, but it can also occur following an injury. Individuals who are overweight are more likely to develop osteoarthritis due to the increased weight placing more pressure and stress on their joints.
Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint in the body, but most commonly in those that are bearing weight, such as your knees, spine, hips, or feet. Over time, the cartilage between our joints begins to break down, which causes the bones to rub together, causing discomfort, inflammation, and stiffness.
The discomfort can come in waves, but most commonly when trying to undertake daily tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, and getting dressed. It can also restrict movement, preventing you from being able to move your arms or legs in the full range of motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another very common type of harmful arthritis. This condition is caused when the immune system begins to attack the body, most commonly the joints. This results in major inflammation in the joints, causing discomfort and damage to the joints. Research has shown that one in five individuals with rheumatoid arthritis develops a condition called rheumatoid nodules, which form lumps on the skin around areas with increased pressure, such as knuckles or the elbows.
Research is ongoing as to what exactly causes rheumatoid arthritis, but experts believe it develops after a viral infection. This bacteria then confuses the immune system and causes it to start attacking the body.
The condition can develop slowly over time or occur suddenly, and it can be significantly more damaging than osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis causes stiffness and swelling around the joints, and it often occurs symmetrically, meaning if your left knee becomes inflamed, then your right one will too. Joints can also become very stiff, which will last anywhere from a few hours to several days.
This type of harmful arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints and skin. Psoriasis causes red, patchy, and inflamed skin and typically occurs around the elbows, knees, scalp, and naval. While psoriasis is very common, less than 30% of individuals will develop psoriatic arthritis, and the condition typically starts occurring between the age of 30 and 50; however, it can occur much earlier.
The condition causes swelling and inflammation in the fingers and toes, and many people will also experience discolored fingernails. For some people, they may find that it is only one joint that becomes impacted, while for others, it can affect several joints at once.
Alongside the discomfort, stiffness, and inflammation that occurs with all forms of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis can also cause fatigue and itchiness alongside swelling and redness in the eyes.
Gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid in the joints, most commonly in your toes or around your foot. The condition can impact anyone, and typically gout attacks occur after periods of heavy drinking, but illness, stress, and drugs can also trigger bouts of sudden sharp pain.
Gout attacks can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, but if left untreated, then they could go on for much longer. Gout attacks can be very infrequent, and many individuals can go years between attacks; however, over time, the gaps decrease, and attacks become more frequent. It can also begin to affect other joints and organs in the body.
This build-up of uric acid is typically caused by your body producing too much, your kidney’s not processing it fast enough, or the consumption of too many foods that promote the production of the acid. Alongside the sharp and intense pain, gout can also cause inflammation and redness, resulting in your joints becoming tender.
Another common type of harmful arthritis is lupus. Otherwise known as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a form of autoimmune disease that not only impacts the joints but also your internal organs.
As with rheumatoid arthritis, doctors are not aware of what it is that causes lupus, but the condition sees the immune system begin attacking the body. This results in significant discomfort and inflammation throughout the body, and women are far more likely to develop the condition than men.
Alongside the swelling and discomfort, lupus can cause headaches and rashes alongside hair loss, mouth sores, and sensitivity to the sun.
Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune condition that attacks the tendons and ligaments, causing discomfort and stiffness in the joints. The spine is the most commonly affected area, but individuals can also experience pain in the pelvis and other joints.
On occasion, the condition can cause bones to fuse, which can create deformation in the spine and lower function and range of movement in the shoulders and hips. The condition is often hereditary and is more common in men than in women.
Ankylosing Spondylitis often occurs during the teenage years and worsens over time. Alongside discomfort, the condition can cause extreme fatigue. The condition can come and go, and some people can find that it can actually ease and get better over time.
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