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Understanding Arthritis -- the Basics

(continued)

The Major Types of Arthritis continued...

Rheumatoid arthritis may eventually cause the hands and feet to become misshapen as muscles weaken, tendons move out of position, and the ends of bones become damaged.

Though there is no cure, remission is possible. Early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis can relieve symptoms and prevent disability in most people. With early treatment, the likelihood of permanent disability is reduced in all but 5% to 10% of sufferers.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis comes in many forms. Still's disease, one type of arthritis, affects the whole body. It is characterized by daily fevers and low blood counts (anemia). The disease can also have secondary effects on the heart, lungs, eyes, and nervous system. Other kinds of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by persistent arthritis in one or more joints. Treatment is essentially the same as for adult rheumatoid arthritis, with heavy emphasis on physical therapy and exercise to keep growing bodies active. Permanent damage from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is now rare, and most affected children recover from the disease fully without experiencing any lasting disabilities.

The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not fully understood, but it is an autoimmune disorder. In autoimmune disorders the body's immune system wrongly attacks itself. Rheumatoid arthritis is not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another. Some people may have a genetic or inherited factor that makes them more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Infectious arthritis is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It is typically caused by infection that travels to a joint from other parts of the body. It can affect, fingers, toes, and arm and leg joints. Examples include staph infection, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, or Lyme disease. It can also be a complication of injury where the organism is directly introduced into the joint.

Other arthritic conditions include ankylosing spondylitis (an inherited arthritis of the spine), bone spurs (bony growths on the vertebrae or other areas), gout (a form of crystal-induced arthritis), and systemic lupus (inflammatory connective-tissue disease).

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on March 08, 2014
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