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Most Common Types of Arthritis


What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis, depending on which joint or joints are affected, may include:

  • Deep, aching pain 
  • Difficulty dressing or combing hair
  • Difficulty gripping objects
  • Difficulty sitting or bending over
  • Joint being warm to the touch
  • Morning stiffness for less than an hour
  • Pain when walking
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Swelling of joint
  • Loss of motion in a joint

What Are Common Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis?

Risk factors for osteoarthritis include:

  • Abnormal alignment of the joints
  • Age
  • Force or weight placed on one knee or hip
  • Gender
  • Heavy, constant joint use
  • Joint injury by other types of arthritis
  • Knee surgery
  • Overuse or injury from athletics or other cause
  • Obesity or being overweight

Osteoarthritis is very common and can coexist with other types of arthritis such as rheumatoid or gout.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis. More than 1.3 million Americans are affected. According to the American College of Rheumatology, about 75% of those affected are women. In fact, between 1% and 3% of women are likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis in their lifetime.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. That means that the immune system attacks parts of the body. For reasons that aren't clear, the joints are the main areas affected by this malfunction in the immune system. Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to severe joint damage and deformities. About one out of every five people who have rheumatoid arthritis develop lumps on their skin called rheumatoid nodules. These often develop over joint areas that receive pressure, such as over knuckles, elbows, or heels.

What Are the Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can come on gradually or start suddenly. Unlike osteoarthritis, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are often more severe, causing pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, stiffness.

With rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel pain and stiffness and experience swelling in your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, jaw, and neck. Sometimes the pain occurs in one body part. But more commonly, rheumatoid arthritis pain occurs in combinations of several joints such as in the hands, knees, and feet.

With rheumatoid arthritis, the joints tend to be involved in a symmetrical pattern. That is, if the knuckles on the left hand are inflamed, the knuckles on the right hand will also be inflamed. After a period of time, more of your joints may gradually become involved with pain and swelling and may feel warm to the touch. The joint swelling is persistent and interferes with activities. For example, it can interfere with opening a jar, driving, working, and walking -- the very activities that allow us to function in our daily lives.

The stiffness on arising in the morning, which may have started as a temporary nuisance, can soon last for hours or even most of the day. Fatigue can be debilitating. Inflammation can cause reduced appetite and weight loss. Fever, rash, and even involvement of the heart or lungs and eyes can occur with rheumatoid arthritis. These feelings and symptoms -- other than joint pain and the inflammation in other organs -- happen when the damage done by the immune system spills over from the joints to other areas of the body.

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