Different Types of Arthritis
There are more than 100 different arthritis types, which are split into three main classifications. These are inflammatory arthritis, for example rheumatoid arthritis, non-inflammatory arthritis, for example osteoarthritis, and connective tissue/ autoimmune disease, for example lupus. Arthritis is a term generally used to describe inflammation within a joint, whilst rheumatism is a more general term used to describe aches and pains in or around the joint area. The three most common and well known types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. However, there are many rarer and less known types of the disease; these are detailed below.
Ankylosis Spondylitis (AS)
This is an inflammatory type of arthritis affecting the joints of the spine. After an inflammation attack, the body produces calcium which is laid down over the point where the ligaments attach to the vertebrae in the spine, causing a loss of flexibility. Eventually ankylosis can result, which is a fusing of the bones in the spine. Symptoms include sciatica type pain in the buttocks or thighs and stiffness.
Reactive Arthritis (also known as Reiter’s Syndrome or Reiter’s Arthritis)
This is an autoimmune type of arthritis that develops following an infection in another part of the body. It commonly develops in the knees and the back, and responds well to treatment. Symptoms include increased frequency of urination or pain on urinating, pain and swelling in affected joints, conjunctivitis type symptoms and small hard nodules which develop on the soles of the feet or the palms of the hand. Some people also experience recurrent mouth ulcers.
Psoriatic arthritis; this is an inflammatory type of arthritis which often develops in people with the skin condition psoriasis. There are five forms of psoriatic arthritis, some of which can be severe if not diagnosed and treated. Symptoms include swelling, throbbing, redness and stiffness in the affected joints, particularly first thing in the morning or after a period of rest, a reduced range of movement in the affected joints and swelling to the fingers or toes.
Pseudo gout; this is another inflammatory type of arthritis, and, like gout, is caused by the formation of crystals in the joints. However, unlike gout where crystals are formed by uric acid, they are formed from a type of salt known as calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD). This build up of crystals causes swelling and pain in the knees, ankles, wrists and other joints. Symptoms include joint pain and swelling and a build up of fluid in the joint. The symptoms of pseudo gout can mimic the symptoms of gout and rheumatoid arthritis, making it difficult to diagnose at times. Fortunately there are simple remedies for gout but pseudo gout can be more difficult.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JIA); this inflammatory type of arthritis affects children under the age of sixteen. There are three main types of JIA; Oligoarticular (or pauciarticular) JIA, which is the most common form and which affects only a few of the joints, Polyarticular JIA, which affects more of the joints including the digits, and Systemic JIA or Stills disease, the rarer form of the condition, which is a more general illness of which joint pain is one symptom. Symptoms of JIA include stiff, swollen and painful joints which often feel hot to the touch. This may be accompanied by a fever or rash.
Fibromyaligia; this is a connective tissue/ autoimmune type of arthritis and is found in the muscles and soft tissues overlying the joints. The cause of fibromyalgia is not yet fully known, but it is thought to be due to a defective neurotransmitter function in the brain. Fibromyalgia can affect the whole body, and symptoms range from exhaustion, chronic fatigue, muscular pain and spasm, muscle twitching and a disturbed sleep pattern. Although there is no cure for fibromyalgia, there are treatments available that can relieve some of the symptoms.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR); this is an inflammatory type of arthritis which most commonly affects people over the age of 65. It causes inflammation of the larger muscles in the body such as the muscles around the shoulders, neck, upper arms and hips. While the cause of PMR is still unknown, it generally responds well to treatment. Symptoms often include stiffness, aching or pain in the large muscles around the neck, shoulders and upper arms, which tend to be worse in the morning or after long periods of inactivity. Inflammation may occur in the soft tissues around the joints as well as swelling.
If you believe you have one of these types of arthritis, you should schedule a visit with your doctor so an accurate diagnosis can be made and appropriate treatment prescribed.