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    Top 3 Types of Arthritis

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    Rheumatoid Arthritis continued...

    What happens: Doctors 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.

    Scientists think two of the body's chemicals that are related to inflammation, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1, trigger other parts of the immune system in rheumatoid arthritis. Medicines that block TNF, interleukin-1, and interleukin-6 can improve the symptoms and prevent joint damage.

    Symptoms can come on gradually or start suddenly. They're often more severe than with osteoarthritis.

    You may feel pain and stiffness and have swelling in your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, jaw, and neck. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects multiple joints.

    There tends to be a symmetrical pattern, too. When the knuckles on your left hand are inflamed, the knuckles on your right hand probably will be as well. After some time, you may notice more of your joints feel warm or become painful or swollen.

    The joint swelling doesn't go away. It gets in the way of things like opening a jar, driving, working, walking, and other activities of daily living.

    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

    What it is: People with this condition have inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (arthritis).

    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 psoriatic 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.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on November 18, 2015
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