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Top 3 Types of Arthritis

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2. 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.

Two of the body’s chemicals that are involved in causing RA inflammation are tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1. Scientists think they 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 in rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms can come on gradually or start suddenly. They are often more severe than in 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. For instance, if the knuckles on the left hand are inflamed, the knuckles on the right hand will also be inflamed. After some time, more of your joints may gradually become involved and may feel warm to the touch or become painful or swollen.

The joint swelling is persistent and interferes with 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 involve other organs including the heart, lungs, and eyes.

3. Psoriatic Arthritis

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

With psoriasis, there are patchy, raised, red, and white areas of skin inflammation with scaling. Psoriasis 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 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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