Arthritis is a joint inflammation. Arthritis comes in different forms which develop due to different causes, present different symptoms and are differently treated. Certain types of arthritis have similar symptoms therefore an affected individual must get correct diagnosis. This is important as knowing the type of arthritis helps to manage the symptoms more effectively and prevent the disease from further progression.
Arthritis Types and Their Symptoms
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis characterized by reduced elasticity of the cartilage. This degenerative disease is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis. Since the cartilage serves as shock absorber to the joints, its gradual loss leads to wear and tear of the joints. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain in the affected joints, joint stiffness and limited motion. Knee joint and hip joint are most commonly affected joints in the body. Osteoarthritis may develop due to aging, trauma or infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another common type of the disease characterized by joint swelling and inflammation. It typically affects hand and foot joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease that develops when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own joints and surrounding tissue. Apart from joints, rheumatoid arthritis may also affect multiple other organs in the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is like osteoarthritis accompanied with joint stiffness although the stiffness is particularly severe in the morning and can be relieved with movement. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include: joint pain, swelling of the joints, joint tenderness, rheumatoid nodules, fever, fatigue and loss of weight.
Infectious arthritis develops due to infection in the fluid and tissues of a joint caused by an infectious agent. This disease is also known as septic arthritis and is most commonly caused by bacteria. Infectious arthritis causes severe pain in the affected joint, joint swelling, stiffness and fever. The pain is aggravated with movement.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is another autoimmune disease of the joints that affects children and adolescents. It is accompanied with persistent joint pain, stiffness and swelling.
Diagnosis of Arthritis
In order to offer appropriate treatment for arthritis, it is crucial to determine the type of arthritis the patient is affected by. Diagnosis is based on physical examination, clinical symptoms, laboratory tests and imaging tests. Joint X-ray examination is used to determine the degree of the cartilage loss. Blood test is ordered to reveal whether infection is present. Also, to check for infection, joint fluid can be removed with a needle and analyzed under a microscope.