Types of Arthritis

Arthritis covers a broad spectrum of disease. To many, the term arthritis means pain and inflammation of the joints – but, arthritis is a much more complex medical condition. The term arthritis comes from the Latin phrase, “arth” meaning joint and “it is” meaning inflammation. There are over 100 illnesses associated with the term arthritis. Arthritis can range from something as simple as tendonitis to something as chronic as rheumatoid arthritis.

Three Most Common Types of Arthritis


The most common type of arthritis. This degenerative joint disease affects over 16 million Americans. This form of arthritis is caused when the cartilage surrounding the ends of the bones begins to degenerate and the joints are no longer cushioned. This caused the joints to rub together and in severe cases, you can hear the bones grating against one another. At the onset of osteoarthritis, the symptoms are usually mild and consist of pain and stiffness of the joints. As the disease progresses, inflammation and loss of motion can occur. In some severe cases, deformity can occur if the grinding joints wear one side of the joint more than the other.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is the second most common type of arthritis and the most severe. Symptoms usually begin appearing between the ages of 25 and 50 – however, children and senior citizens can experience the onset of this disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease because factors other than wear and tear of cartilage can cause the disease and the disease can affect other organs, such as the eyes, lungs, and heart.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the joints on both sides of the body – for instance, both hands will be affected, both wrists will be affected, and both legs will be affected. The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are pain, stiffness, swelling, redness of the skin, fatigue, weight loss, and low-grade fever. Not only affecting the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can give you an overall feeling of sickness. Rheumatoid arthritis can be a debilitating disease, however patients can experience periods of remission in which the symptoms disappear and they can lead a normal life.


This is a type of arthritis that does not directly affect the joints. Rather, the inflammation and pain affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and soft tissues under the skin. Many patients have tender spots under the skin that are painful when any type of pressure is applied. The symptoms for Fibromyalgia include deep muscle pain, fatigue, sleeplessness, and depression. Symptoms may come and go, but the disease is long term and chronic.

Other Types of Arthritis

Anklyosing Spondylitis

A chronic, inflammatory disease that affects the spine. The common symptoms include lower back pain and stiffness that lasts for more than a period of three months, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, weight loss, and low-grade fever.


This disease usually affects the joints of the big toe, but can extend to the ankles, heels, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbow. The common symptoms are tenderness, pain, redness, warmth, and swelling of the affected joint.

Infectious Arthritis

This type of arthritis is caused by an infection, and can be caused by both bacterial and viral infections. The onset of infectious arthritis is sudden and the symptoms include swelling of the joint, soreness, warmth, leakage of tissue fluid, fever, and chills.

Cervical arthritis

This type of arthritis affects the upper back and can cause pain in the neck and arms. Cervical arthritis is caused when the cartilage protecting the discs that support the neck deteriorate. The most common symptom of cervical arthritis is chronic neck pain, but can include loss of balance, headaches, muscle weakness, and stiffness.

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

This inflammatory arthritis affects children. The most common symptoms of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis are swelling, pain, and stiffness in joints. The symptoms are usually worse in children upon waking in the morning and after a nap. There is no known reason for the onset of arthritis in children and, unlike rheumatoid arthritis in adults, children sometimes outgrow the disease and the symptoms disappear.

These are just some of the many types of arthritis. In general terms, arthritis is any disease that involves inflammation – swelling and pain of the joints or muscles. If you suspect that you suffer from arthritis, you should consult your physician to determine the type of arthritis and learn what treatments are available.


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