There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and these ailments affect over 40 million people in the United States. Arthritis, a joint disorder that causes painful inflammation and stiffness, affects both genders and all age groups. Still, it is the most common chronic ailment for women, affecting 24.4 million women in the U.S., and it develops in one of every two people over the age of 65.
Although there are countless types of arthritis, the following are some of the most common:
Rheumatoid Arthritis - this form of arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system. The immune system will attack the synovium, or a membrane that surrounds joints, and this causes the joint lining to swell. Once the inflammation spreads, it will damage bone and cartilage. This is a lifelong disease that primarily affects the joints in knees, hands, or wrists. Rheumatoid arthritis can even affect the skin, eyes, and nerves.
Osteoarthritis - also known as degenerative joint disease, this is the most common of all the types of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage that covers your bones gradually wears away. Cartilage is a smooth, spongy material that covers the bones and allows the joints to move smoothly. Without cartilage, bones will begin to rub against each other, leading to swelling. Although this type of arthritis can happen in any joint, it usually affects the hands, or weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, or spine.
Gout - this painful form of arthritis is caused by an excess of uric acid, a natural substance, in the body. The extra uric acid then begins to form needle-like crystals in the joints, leading to severe pain and inflammation typically in the wrist joints, big toes, and knees.
If you are experiencing pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, warmth, tenderness in your joints, or other related symptoms of arthritis, consult your physician. Arthritis is the leading cause of work-related disability among adults, so it is best to speak with a doctor before your ailment worsens. Your doctor will look at the history of your symptoms and give you various tests to diagnose you properly. Although recommended treatments can vary greatly depending on the type or types of arthritis you have, typical treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, immune-altering medications, physical therapy, and cold pack applications.