Arthritis is typically characterized by inflammation and loss of function of one or more joints of the body. Some of these are known as autoimmune diseases because they occur when the immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and disease, attacks the body’s own tissues.
There are over 100 different conditions that affect the joints and are loosely termed arthritis. Some signs of arthritis include pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling.
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Common types of arthritis
Some of the common types of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It primarily affects the joint cartilage, which is the tissue that cushions the ends of bones within the joint. Once this process begins, the cartilage starts to erode and may eventually suffer severe wearing down. This leads to joint pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the lining of the joint, usually affecting several joints at the same time. Patients experience pain, stiffness, swelling of the joint lining and eventually joint damage, leading to deformity and pain, with loss of function of the affected joints. It may affect both hands and both feet.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
This is the most common form of arthritis in childhood. It leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function of the joints. In addition, there may be rashes or fevers, and the disease may affect various parts of the body.
Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome that has systemic affects. Pain, stiffness, and localized tender points are found on various muscles and tendons, particularly those of the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. In addition, there are tiredness and sleep difficulties.
Psoriatic arthropathy is an autoimmune phenomenon that produces inflammation and pain of the joints, the ligaments, and tendons, and the skin, producing arthritis, soft tissue inflammation or enthesitis and psoriasis respectively.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the deposition of urate crystals in the joint cavity and around it, in the soft tissues, producing inflammation and severe pain. The big toe is most affected, but other joints may also be inflamed.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
SLE is also an autoimmune disease. There is inflammation of and damage to the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Along with arthritis, fatigue, alopecia, and photosensitivity are common.
These conditions affect the spinal joints most commonly. One of the common forms is ankylosing spondylitis that affects the spine, neck and sometimes the hips, shoulders, and knees.
Other types of arthritis
Other types of arthritis include:
- Adult onset Still's disease – similar to systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it begins in adult life
- Ankylosing spondylitis – an inflammation of the joints and ligaments causing pain and stiffness in the lower back, hips and sacroiliac joints
- Behcet's syndrome – rare and devastating autoimmune illness causing sores in the mouth and over the genital organs, with ocular inflammation and rashes
- Calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate (CPPD) crystal deposition disease – occurs with the deposition of such crystals in and around the joint, causing inflammation and cartilage breakdown
- Degenerative disc disease – due to shrinkage and herniation of the intervertebral disc causing osteoarthritis of the spine
- Diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) – caused by inflammation of the tendons and ligaments around the spine as a result of calcification and bone spur formation
- Fifth disease – caused by viral infection with the erythema infectiosum virus in adult life
- Granulomatous arteritis – Wegener’s granulomatosis causes inflammation of small vessels in the upper respiratory tract, the lungs and the kidneys, as well as joint pain
- Hemochromatosis – here iron overload damages the joints as well as other organs including the liver and pancreas
- Hip dysplasia – characterized by finding dislocation of the hip in a newborn
- Hypertrophic osteoarthropathy
- Infectious arthritis – caused by joint infection, and due to infection with fungi, bacteria or viruses
- Immune complex disease
- Jaccoud's arthropathy – a disorder characterized by dislocation of the second to fifth fingers towards the ulna, at the metacarpophalangeal joint
- Juvenile dermatomyositis – inflammatory disorder resulting in muscle weakness and skin rash
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis – also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis, it is an autoimmune disorder causing joint inflammation
- Kawasaki disease – a rare inflammatory disorder involving the blood vessels, and especially the coronary arteries, seen in children below 2 years most commonly
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease – childhood hip disorder due to avascular necrosis of the femoral head
- Lesch-Nyhan syndrome – also called juvenile gout, it is an inherited disease caused by deficiency of the HGPRT enzyme, occurring almost always in males
- Lipoid dermatoarthritis – the destruction of multiple joints because of a defect in fat metabolism
- Lyme disease – due to tick-borne rickettsial infection, with skin rashes and fever in the initial stages
- Multicentric reticulohistiocytosis – a rare condition with skin nodules caused by histiocyte proliferation, and arthritis of the interphalangeal joints
- Multiple epiphyseal dysplasia – a cartilage and bone disorder affecting the epiphyseal region, due to genetic causes
- Neuropathic arthropathy – also called Charcot joint, is a condition in which a weight-bearing joint is progressively destroyed by lack of innervation, leading to deformities and pathologic fractures
- Ochronosis – caused by the buildup of a metabolite called homogentisic acid in the connective tissues leading to a yellowish discoloration of the skin and arthritis among other features
- Osteochondromatosis – caused by the proliferation and transformation of the synovial membrane into osteogenic tissue, leading to several bony projections forming from the joint lining and eventually forming loose bodies, and osteoarthritis
- Pigmented villonodular synovitis – a disease caused by inflammation and proliferation of the joint lining of the hip or knee in most cases
- Polyarteritis nodosa – a vasculitic disease which affects multiple systems, causing fever and night sweats with severe pains in the muscles and joints
- Polymyalgia rheumatica – an inflammatory condition causing muscle pain and stiffness usually of the shoulder region
- Pott's disease – tuberculosis of the upper spine
- Reactive arthritis/Reiter's syndrome – inflammatory arthritis indirectly caused by some bacterial infections like Chlamydial or Campylobacter infection
- Relapsing polychondritis – a disorder of multiple systems with recurrent cartilage inflammation and breakdown, often resulting in joint deformity
- Rheumatic fever – a complication of some streptococcal throat infections, with arthritis among its primary manifestations
- Sarcoidosis – an inflammation of multiple body organs, particularly the lungs and lymph nodes, associated with joint pain
- Scleroderma – an autoimmune disorder causing chronic connective tissue symptoms including joint pain
- Sickle cell arthropathy – joint complications like gout or septic arthritis due to joint damage during sickle-cell crises
- Spinal stenosis – narrowing of the spinal spaces compressing the nerves travelling through the spinal canal
- Spondyloarthritis – inflammatory diseases affecting the bony joint and the soft tissue
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) – a chronic relapsing-remitting autoimmune condition that causes skin rashes, joint pain and kidney damage among other features
- Traumatic arthritis - arthritis due to physical joint injury
- Whipple's disease – a rare infection with Tropheryma whipplei that affects multiple organs such as the heart and the lungs, with joint pain as well