Types of Arthritis
The most common types of arthritis in adults
include rheumatoid arthritis (RA),
osteoarthritis (OA), fibromyalgia (FM),
ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic
arthritis (PA), lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome,
scleroderma, gout, and osteoporosis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition of the immune system. RA is characterized by inflammation, swelling, tenderness and stiffness in various joints. The most common complaint is prolonged morning stiffness that eases with use of the joint. Patient history, physical examination of the affected joints, X-rays and blood tests are used to diagnose RA. Early, aggressive treatment is essential to preserving function and preventing deformity.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage of the joint wears away. As the joint space narrows, bone spurs form. The joint becomes inflamed and nerve endings become irritated. The result: pain and swelling. People with OA usually have pain after activities involving the affected joint. Diagnosis is based on patient history, a physical exam, and X-rays. Treatment focuses on relieving pain, reducing inflammation and improving joint motion though exercise to increase flexibility and build strength Medications are used to control inflammation.
People with fibromyalgia complain of fatigue and hurting all over. While fibromyalgia can affect men and women at any age, it more commonly affects women. Even with adequate amounts of sleep, people with FM still may wake up unrefreshed, resulting in a vicious cycle of increasing fatigue and pain. There is no laboratory test to diagnose fibromyalgia. Other conditions, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, and sleep apnea must first be ruled out. A diagnosis of FM may be confirmed by identifying a number of “tender points,” which are certain areas of the body that are painful to the touch. Treatment focuses on relieving pain and improving sleep quality.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS)
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis the affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. The first symptoms typically occur before age 40. Early diagnosis is important to avoid joint damage, deformity and disability. But diagnosis is often delayed because the symptoms often mimic common back problems. Laboratory tests, X-rays and bone scans can aid an accurate diagnosis. Treatment focuses on anti-inflammatory medications, aerobic exercise and physical therapy. Rehabilitation focuses on proper body positioning, exercises to strengthen the back and abdomen, aerobic exercises to enhance lung capacity, and other exercises to maintain range of motion.
Psoriatic Arthritis (PA)
Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis. It is related to the skin condition psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is usually accompanied by patches of raised red areas on the skin with a silvery scale . The skin lesions usually appear on the scalp, elbows, knees or lower back. The cause of PA is not known, but the immune system, environmental factors and heredity are all thought to play a role. Among people whose parents or siblings have PA, there is a greatly increased risk of developing the disease. Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed through physical examination, x-rays, and laboratory tests. Treatment focuses on relieving joint pain and inflammation, and clearing the skin lesions.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder like RA. The disease was named by doctors who observed that the skin problems that often signal the condition resembled the bite of the wolf (lupus means wolf; erythematosus means redness). Its cause is unknown. Researchers believe that certain people may have a genetic disposition toward the disease, combined with a subsequent exposure to some environmental insult or infection. There are three types of lupus with varying degrees of severity. Diagnosis is based on patient history, physical exam and blood test results. Treatment focuses on alleviating the underlying symptoms. Some people with lupus do not have to take medications regularly, although prescription drugs may be prescribed for flare-up of symptoms. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-malarial drugs and/or corticosteroids for flare-ups of arthritis or pleuritis (pain with breathing).
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s immune system destroys the exocrine glands that produce tears, saliva and mucus. The cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown, although scientists believe that patients who are genetically predisposed to Sjögren’s syndrome may come in contact with a virus or certain bacteria that triggers the immune response. This response inactivates tear and saliva glands. The result is uncomfortably dry eyes and dry mouth. A burning sensation in the mouth or throat is also common, as is a hoarse voice or difficulty swallowing because food sticks to the dry tissue. Enlarged or infected glands that cause pain are also common, as is vaginal dryness among women. Many patients also complain of aching and fatigue. Definitive diagnosis is based on a thorough history, physical examination and results of blood tests. Treatment focuses on treating symptoms of dry eyes and mouth to increase moisture and decrease inflammation.
The term “scleroderma” means, literally, “hard skin,” which refers to the smooth, tightened or thickened areas of skin that are a common sign of the disorder. Scleroderma is not well understood, but is believed to be a relatively rare, autoimmune condition. The disease affects all age groups. Its onset is most commonly seen in women between the ages of 25 and 55. A definitive diagnosis of scleroderma can be difficult because the symptoms mimic many other diseases. A definite diagnosis is based on a medical history, physical examination, and blood tests. Treatment is based on relieving symptoms, particularly those of dry skin and joint inflammation and pain.
Gout is caused by deposits of uric acid — a white, odorless crystal that accumulates in the joint and causes redness and swelling. Attacks come on suddenly and are painful and often affect the big toe, ankle and knee. A definitive diagnosis depends upon testing fluid removed from the joint for the presence of uric acid. Drugs and diet are often culprits of gout attacks. Certain substances in medications and food can increase levels of uric acid in the blood. Treatment focuses on avoiding certain foods and alcoholic beverages. Medications may also be prescribed to prevent flare-ups.
Osteoporosis is a common condition in this country and is a major cause of spine and hip fractures. The definition of osteoporosis is a decrease in bone strength defined as a decreased bone density. Because hip fractures have a significant increase in mortality, the diagnosis and prevention/treatment of osteoporosis is a major issue. Risk factors for developing this silent and often, preventable disease include advancing age, female sex, low weight, previous spontaneous or low trauma fracture( an injury that would not be expected to cause a fracture), hip fracture in a mother or father, smoking, corticosteroid use, Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day and a low bone density.