Arthritis is the name given to a group of chronic disorders whose symptoms include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion in one or more joints. Arthritis can effect anyone but is most common in older adults. Arthritis may result from trauma, aging, infection, an auto-immune disease, genetics, or occupational injuries. Treatment options for arthritis include medication, exercise, physical therapy, and surgery. Understanding the various types of arthritis and the symptoms that accompany them can help you communicate with your health care professional to find the best treatment.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is caused by the wearing away of cartilage around the joint, causing bones in the joint to rub together. Although almost everyone will experience some degree of osteoarthritis after the age of 70, people who work in certain physically demanding jobs or play some sports are more susceptible. Osteoarthritis sufferers often experience stiffness (particularly in the morning) and loss of range of motion in addition to pain that is more severe after physical activity or certain types of movement.
Another common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks healthy cells. Symptoms are usually experienced in the same joint on both sides of the body. The joints most often affected by rheumatoid arthritis are the fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and feet. Pain, swelling, and compromised movement are all common in rheumatoid arthritis, as well as eventual deformity of the affected joints in more severe cases. More women than men have rheumatoid arthritis.
Gout is a kind of arthritis that occurs primarily in the joint at the base of the big toe, although it can also occur in the wrists, fingers, knees, and heel. It is cause by excess uric acid in the blood, which is then deposited in joints and surrounding tissues in the form of uric acid crystals. Gout can have various causes, including genetics and trauma, but is often associated with frequent consumption of alcohol and meat. Gout is more prevalent in men than women.
There are many other forms of arthritis, including autoimmune diseases like ankylosing spondylitis and scleroderma, and those resulting from infection, like gonococcal arthritis. Although different types of arthritis can be differentiated on the basis of their symptoms, medical testing is usually necessary to conclusively determine the underlying cause
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