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Top 3 Types of Arthritis

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Did you know that there are more than 100 types of arthritis? Learn about the three most common ones, including what they are, what happens, and their symptoms.

1. Osteoarthritis

What it is: More people have this condition than any other form of arthritis. It’s the “wear and tear” that happens when your joints are overused. It usually happens with age, but it can also result from joint injuries or obesity (which puts extra stress on your joints).

Joints that bear weight -- such as your knees, hips, feet, and spine - are the most common places it affects. It often comes on gradually over months or years. It causes the pain in the affected joint. But people who have it don’t feel sick or have the fatigue that comes with some other types of arthritis.

What happens: Your cartilage gradually breaks down. Cartilage is a slippery material that covers the ends of bones. It’s your body’s shock absorber. As damage happens, the cartilage starts to wear away, or it doesn't work as well as it once did to cushion the joint.

For example, the stress on knees from being overweight can damage knee cartilage, which makes it wear out faster than usual.

As the cartilage wears, the joint loses its cushion. That makes movement painful. You may hear a grating sound when the roughened cartilage on the surface of the bones rubs together. You may get painful spurs or bumps on the end of the bones, especially on the fingers and feet. The joint lining can get inflamed, but it’s not a major part of osteoarthritis.

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

  • Deep, aching pain
  • Trouble dressing, combing hair, gripping things, sitting, or bending over
  • Joint is warm to the touch
  • Morning stiffness for less than an hour
  • Pain when walking
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Joint swells and becomes harder to move

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

What it is: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 rheumatoid arthritis get lumps on their skin called rheumatoid nodules. These often form over joint areas that receive pressure, such as over knuckles, elbows, or heels.

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