A man is gripping his wrist
If you suspect arthritis is the source of your pain the first step is a diagnosis

Characterizing the Most Common Types of Arthritis

There are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis and related diseases out there. Arthritis can affect anyone at any age and is one of the leading causes of disability due to chronic pain. Since there are so many types of arthritis and a giant population of people who can get it, makes this common condition one that should be more understood.

General arthritis symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. These factors may limit range of motion, but there can be windows of time where symptoms ease. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Two Main Categories of Arthritis

Arthritis conditions fall into one of two categories: degenerative or inflammatory. Degenerative arthritis diseases cause damage to the area surrounding a joint—commonly referred to as the “wear and tear” variety. Inflammatory arthritis conditions involve the immune system; they are autoimmune disorders. In these disorders, the body’s mistakenly attacks its own tissues to cause issues or damage inside of the joints. A tell-tale sign of inflammatory arthritis is the presence of white blood cells in the joint fluid.

Despite its prevalence, arthritis isn’t completely understood. It can begin unexpectedly, masquerade as other diseases, and defy treatment. Sometimes symptoms are clear and visible (stiff, swollen joints are a hallmark of many types), but often the pain and discomfort won’t show up on the surface of the body.

If you suspect arthritis is the source of your pain, stiffness, and inflammation – the first step is a concise and accurate diagnosis. Here are 10 of the most common types of arthritis to watch out for.

1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is often used synonymously with degenerative arthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis, impacting nearly all people in some capacity by age 80. Osteoarthritis affects the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones on the body’s joints. When the cartilage wears away, the bones lose the protective layer between each other. Without this lubricated layer, the bones rub together and result in pain and swelling.

It can affect only one joint or several joints. You will typically find this kind of arthritis in load-bearing joints within the hips, knees, spine, feet, and hands.

This kind of arthritis can be caused by abnormal joint loading (caused by obesity and joint injury) and systemic factors (genetics, inflammation, aging, and sex). The breakdown of cartilage in a joint can also be the result of repetitive movements or aging.

Pain with osteoarthritis builds up throughout the day and may increase after activity. This means mornings are a better time for those with osteoarthritis. Treatment is usually done with medications that reduce pain and inflammation, exercise to keep the joints flexible, and weight management to prevent additional strain.

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