Arthritis is typically characterized by inflammation and loss of function of one or more joints of the body. Some of these are known as autoimmune diseases because they occur when the immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and disease, attacks the body’s own tissues.
There are over 100 different conditions that affect the joints and are loosely termed arthritis. Some signs of arthritis include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling.
Common types of arthritis
Some of the common types of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It primarily affects the joint cartilage, which is the tissue that cushions the ends of bones within the joint. Once this process begins, the cartilage starts to erode and may eventually suffer severe wearing down. This leads to joint pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the lining of the joint, usually affecting several joints at the same time. Patients experience pain, stiffness, swelling of the joint lining and eventually joint damage, leading to deformity and pain, with loss of function of the affected joints. It may affect both hands and both feet.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
This is the most common form of arthritis in childhood. It leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function of the joints. In addition, there may be rashes or fevers, and the disease may affect various parts of the body.
Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome that has systemic affects. Pain, stiffness, and localized tender points are found on various muscles and tendons, particularly those of the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. In addition, there are tiredness and sleep difficulties.
Psoriatic arthropathy is an autoimmune phenomenon that produces inflammation and pain of the joints, the ligaments, and tendons, and the skin, producing arthritis, soft tissue inflammation or enthesitis and psoriasis respectively.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the deposition of urate crystals in the joint cavity and around it, in the soft tissues, producing inflammation and severe pain. The big toe is most affected, but other joints may also be inflamed.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is also an autoimmune disease. There is inflammation of and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Along with arthritis, fatigue, alopecia, and photosensitivity are common.
These conditions affect the spinal joints most commonly. One of the common forms is ankylosing spondylitis that affects the spine, neck and sometimes the hips, shoulders, and knees.