While there is a significant amount of publicity given to a number of arthritic conditions, there are actually more than 100 different types of arthritis, each with their own symptoms and debilitating effects. Most people have heard of at least one of these medical conditions, and sadly many people experience their impact on a daily basis.
The most common types are discussed in more detail below, but you will want to go to several reliable health and medical websites to find out if your particular set of symptoms falls under one of the 100 less attention getting variations. If you have any doubts, seek professional medical advice.
Osteoarthritis is generally associated with getting older, and the cause is simply the fact that your physical body is wearing down. But it is also found in younger people who are obese for a period of time or who have had joint injuries as a result of playing sports or other bone stressing activities. The good news is that because it takes weeks, months, or even years to develop you can avoid many of the potential problems by recognizing the symptoms early. The bad news is that many people, because of the slow onset of the condition, simply ignore the symptoms until they have reached the point of no return. Though this is one of the most common types, it is also one of the few types of arthritis that doesn’t cause you to be fatigued.
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is what is known as an autoimmune disease. In layperson’s terms, this means the body is actually attacking itself. In the case of RA the target is the joints. One of the reasons RA gets so much attention is because it can result in severe joint damage if left untreated. The biggest problem for RA sufferers is that medical science has not yet determined its cause, which means treatment will depend on the patient’s specific symptoms. Most people who have RA will see lumps on their skin in the affected area. These lumps, known as rheumatoid nodules, are often seen on the heel, elbow, or knuckle. Also unlike osteoarthritis, the symptoms can occur very rapidly and with little warning.
Gout is commonly discussed among the general population because it is the result of basic lifestyle habits that end up with an increased amount of uric acid crystals in your body. People will see gout occur on their feet and toes. Excessive drinking, drug use, and stress are three of the known causes of the disease which can stay with you for as many as 10 days before finally subsiding. It may not be a consistent condition but it is a persistent condition, as you can experience gout for many years with the same recurring symptoms. The general age range for it to occur is between 30 and 50, though it can actually be found in children. Though it may seem like this is not a major problem because it comes and goes, if left untreated your kidneys and joints can also be affected.
Lupus is the more common name associated with the arthritic type systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. Like RA it is an autoimmune disease but can affect both the joints and other organs in your system. The people who are most likely to be affected are women of childbearing age (between 15 and 44) and women who are African American. Lupus can affect men and women but it is more likely to be found in women. One very unique symptom of lupus is a rash that has the appearance of a “butterfly” across the cheeks. This is one form of arthritis where fatigue can be a debilitating condition.
Psoriatic arthritis, while being in the top 5 list of most common forms or arthritis, is not commonly known among the general population. Many people know of psoriasis as a general skin condition that is annoying but not something to be overly concerned about. One reason is that only between 10 and 30 percent of people who have psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. This type causes both the joints and the skin to become inflamed. One sign of hope is that the condition is usually localized, meaning it does not spread throughout the body like the autoimmune variations of arthritis do. The population most affected are men and women between the ages of 30 and 50.
An important note to these 5 major types of arthritis or any type is that while there are age groups that are primarily affected, being outside of those age ranges does not mean you are out of the woods. Another note is that while some forms of arthritis are statistically more prevalent in one gender than another, being male or female does mean you are immune from getting the disease.