Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States.i Osteo-arthritis, the most common form of the disease, affects millions of people worldwide alone. ii The disease is generally described as the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints, eventually causing joint pain and stiffness. Considering that 23% of all adults in the U.S have some form of the disease, arthritis can limit one’s ability to work or even carry out daily tasks.i Knowing the symptoms and types of arthritis can help you and your health care provider treat the disease before symptoms become too severe.
Main Types of Arthritis
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. The disorder most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. iii
- Pain in Joints
- Joint Stiffness
- Loss of Flexibility in joints
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) mainly attacks the synovial tissue within joints. This specialized tissue keeps the articular joint lubricated and provides nutrients. RA is a systemic disease, meaning it can affect the whole body and can cause chronic swelling and pain that is sometimes severe. iii
- Low-grade Fevers
- Weight Loss
- Firm lumps beneath the skin (primarily in the hands, elbows, or ankles)
Gout is a unique type of arthritis that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or more joint. iii Gout is often caused when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines, which is natural in your body. Purines can be found in foods such as red meat, seafood, and alcoholic beverages.
- Intense Joint Pain (most often the big toe)
- Lingering Discomfort
- Inflammation and Redness
- Limited Range of Motion in Joints
Taking Initiative and Moving Forward
The risk of arthritis increases with age. If you have a family history of arthritis or have experienced any symptoms for an extended period of time, contact your health care provider before the symptoms turn severe. Severe arthritis, particularly if your hands or arms are affected, can limit your work and daily tasks. Arthritis can worsen over time, and the stiffness and pain of your weight-bearing joints can become severe if left untreated.
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i Arthritis Foundation: https://www.arthritis.org/getmedia/e1256607-fa87-4593-aa8a-8db4f291072a/2019-abtn-final-march-2019.pdf
iii Mayoclinic: Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/facts-statistics-infographic