Did you know that there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related diseases? Of these, several kinds of arthritis are the most common and can cause debilitating pain that hampers with your quality of life in many ways.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults who have arthritis report that it limits their work and leisure activities, while one in four say it causes severe, chronic pain.
7 Major Form of Arthritis
Just as there are diverse types of arthritis, there are also many treatments, both with and without medications. Let’s take a closer look at the seven most common types of arthritis and how they are most commonly treated or managed.
- Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that affects joints. It occurs when protective cartilage and fluid break down over time and eventually the bones of the joint rub against each other. As a result, it can cause severe pain and restrict movement. Osteoarthritis often presents itself as inflammation affecting the knees, hips, hands, or spine.
While mild to moderate pain intensity from osteoarthritis can be managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), severe pain may require other treatments, such as hot and cold therapy, topical rubs, physical therapy, or surgery to replace the damaged joint.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)occurs when the body’s immune system is dysfunctional and attacks the tissues of its own joints and other organs. Normally, your immune system triggers inflammation to protect you from viruses, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens. However, with autoimmune diseases like RA, your immune system overreacts and instead attacks healthy tissue — in this case, the lining of joints. Persistent inflammation can ultimately lead to permanent damage of joints and other organs, as well as worsening pain.Typically, RA affects parallel joints – for example, both knees orboth hands. It can also affect internal organs, such as the heart, liver, or eyes. Treatment for RA includes medications like DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics designed to slow down disease progression and ease pain.
- Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is another autoimmune inflammatory disease that, in addition to causing skin rashes and pain, can also affect any joint and the tendons or ligaments that are attached to bone, although it commonly causes inflammation in the heel, the bottom of the foot, or the lower back. Pain-relieving DMARDs and biologics are often prescribed to treat PsA, while psoriasis requires skin treatments from a dermatologist.
- Fibromyalgiais a pain disorder caused by dysfunction of the central nervous system. It is characterized by widespread pain that can be constant or intermittent. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include fatigue, sleep problems, the inability to concentrate, as well as mood troubles, all of which can intensify pain perception. Treatments for fibromyalgia include antidepressant or anticonvulsant medications and nondrug treatments such as exercise and acupuncture.
- Goutis also considered a form of inflammatory arthritis, although it doesn’t cause body-wide inflammation. It occurs when your body produces too much uric acid that builds up in the blood and forms crystals, which can get stuck in joints, resulting in extremely painful inflammation. If left untreated, these crystals can form lumps in the affected joints or their surrounding tissues. An initial flare-up of gout can be treated with NSAIDs, corticosteroids, or colchicine. Once the flare-up subsides, gout can be treated and managed with uric acid-reducing drugs. It can also be prevented with lifestyle changes, such as increasing consumption of water and avoiding alcohol and purine-rich foods.
- Lupusis a complex autoimmune inflammatory disease affecting multiple areas of the body, including the joints, kidneys, skin, blood, brain,and other organs. Symptoms include joint pain, headaches, chest pain, fatigue, fever, rash, sensitivity to light, kidney problems, and even hair loss. There are a variety of medications used to treat lupus, including NSAIDs, corticosteroids, DMARDs. However, belimumab (Benlysta) and anfrolumab (Saphnelo) are specially approved to treat the disease.
- Back Painis associated with several forms of arthritis and related diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, spinal stenosis, and fibromyalgia. However, most back pain is merely the result of an injury, most of which can be treated with heat and cold therapy, exercise, and stress management. If arthritic in nature, back pain can be treated with NSAIDs, analgesics, or DMARDs, including biologics.
Experienced Rheumatologist in Syracuse, New York
At the Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology Division of the Department of Medicine at SUNY: Upstate Medical University, we attend to patients suffering from joint diseases that occur with systemic inflammation.
Recent advancements in understanding the causes of arthritis have led to the introduction of new medications that have revolutionized the effective treatment of many debilitating joint diseases. Accordingly, we provide state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic joint injections and infusion services.
To schedule an appointment to diagnose and treat your arthritic conditions, please call your rheumatology provider directly. You can also contact the Department of Medicine at SUNY: Upstate Medical University at DeptMedicine@upstate.edu to find out more.