The term Arthritis has been derived from 'arth', which means joint, and 'itis', which means inflammation. It is an umbrella term, which includes over 100 types of arthritis, mainly affecting the joints, causing redness, swelling, heat, stiffness, and pain in the affected area. These can range from comparatively mild forms of bursitis and tendonitis, to the forms that are crippling, like, Psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The types of this disease also include disorders, like systemic lupus Erythematosus, and pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia, which affects all parts of the body. The pain that accompanies the disease is usually caused due to the inflammation of the lining of the joint. While these joint disorders do affect the elderly, there are also certain types that affect even children. Although the incidence rises with age, almost 3 out of 5 people get affected by arthritis below the age of 65.
Many of the types of arthritis given below can result in permanent damage to the bones, joints, skin, and organs.
Osteoarthritis: Also referred to as a degenerative joint disease, this type is caused due to wear and tear, and is associated with aging. It affects weight-bearing joints, like, the knees, hips, spine, feet, and the base of the thumb. Mechanical and genetic factors are thought to play a major role in causing this condition. Some of the other risk factors are, obesity, trauma to the joint, and repetitive use of the joint.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: In this type, the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovial membrane, resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joint. Hence, it is known as an autoimmune disease. It is a disabling disease, which becomes a chronic condition. Early diagnosis is often difficult, since the symptoms are subtle in the beginning, and worsen gradually.
Psoriatic Arthritis: This has many similarities with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly due to it being an autoimmune disease. It often affects people, who get afflicted with psoriasis. The joints get inflamed, accompanied by swelling and pain, and if left untreated can lead to crippling of the joints.
Gout: It is caused due to a disorder of the metabolism of uric acid in the body, which results in crystals of uric acid being deposited in the joints, particularly the big toe, resulting in pain, swelling, and redness in the toe.
Juvenile Arthritis: All types of arthritis that affect children are included under the umbrella term juvenile arthritis. The most common type that affects children is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, of which there are three types: pauciarticular, referring to just a few joints; Polyarticular, which means it affects several joints; and systemic, wherein the entire body system is affected. This disorder is diagnosed when the symptoms last for at least 6 weeks.
Infectious Arthritis: It occurs due to infections caused by fungi, viruses, or bacteria. For example, septic arthritis occurs because of infection caused by bacteria; tuberculous, because of tuberculosis; viral, because of viral infections; Gonococcal arthritis affects those who are infected by gonorrhea; fungal arthritis, because of a fungal infection.
Ankylosing Spondylitis: It is a chronic disease that is highly inflammatory, mainly affecting the spine. It can lead to the fusing of the vertebrae resulting in a rigid spine. One of the most common symptoms, is low back pain, along with stiffness, which continues for several months. Usually, this type of arthritis affects men in the age range of 16-35, women can also be affected though.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica: It affects people after the age of 50, and causes severe aching and stiffness in the shoulders, hips, and neck. Since other conditions have similar symptoms, it is often difficult to diagnose it accurately. However, if diagnosed early enough, it usually responds well to the treatment.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: This is an autoimmune disease, which affects the entire system along with several internal organs. It usually occurs in women in their child-bearing years. Since this disease can be life-threatening, it is important for it to be diagnosed early and treated accurately.
Fibromyalgia: This type of arthritis affects the soft tissues in the body, and caused because of a defection in the neurotransmitter function in the brain. It is characterized by stiffness, tenderness, and achy pain in the muscles.