What Type of Arthritis Do You Have?
100 types of joint pain
100 types of joint pain
Arthritis affects more than 50 million American adults and 300,000 children, according to the Arthritis Foundation
There are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis and related conditions. Arthritis can cause debilitating joint pain. The causes and treatment options vary from one type to another.
In order to find the best treatment and management strategies, it’s important to determine the type of arthritis you have.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. It affects about 27 million people in the United States, reports the Arthritis Foundation.
In OA, cartilage in your joints breaks down, causing your bones to rub together and your joints to swell. Age, obesity, injuries, family history, and joint overuse can raise your risk of developing it. Common symptoms include joint soreness, morning stiffness, lack of coordination, and increasing disability.
To learn if you have OA, your doctor will take your medical history and conduct a physical exam. They may order X-rays and other imaging tests. They may also aspirate an affected joint, taking a sample of fluid from inside to check for infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of autoimmune disease in which your body attacks healthy joint tissue. About 1.5 million adults in the United States have RA, estimates the Arthritis Foundation. Nearly three times as many women have RA compared to men.
Common symptoms of RA include morning stiffness and joint pain, typically in the same joint on both sides of your body. Joint deformities can eventually develop. Additional symptoms may also develop in other parts of your body including the heart, lungs, eyes, or skin.
Sjogren’s syndrome frequently occurs with RA. This condition causes severe dry eyes and mouth. Other symptoms and complications include sleep difficulties, nodules under your skin, and numbness, burning, and tingling in your hands and feet.
Testing for RA
Testing for RA
Your doctor can’t use any single test to determine if you have RA. To develop a diagnosis, they will likely take a medical history, conduct a physical exam, and order X-rays or other imaging tests. They may also order:
- a rheumatoid factor test
- an anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) test
- a complete blood count (CBC)
- a C-reactive protein (CRP) test
- an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- genetic tests for rare arthritis forms, such as the HLA-B27 antigen
These tests can help your doctor learn if you have an autoimmune reaction and systemic inflammation.
Juvenile arthritis (JA) affects children under 16 years old. The condition affects about 300,000 children in the United States, reports the Arthritis Foundation.
JA is an umbrella term for several types of arthritis that affect children. The most common type is juvenile idiopathic arthritis, a group of autoimmune disorders that can impact children’s joints. It can cause muscle and soft tissue to tighten, bones to erode, changes in growth patterns, and joint misalignment.
Other less common forms of JA include juvenile dermatomyositis, juvenile lupus, juvenile scleroderma, Still’s disease, and Kawasaki disease.
Months of aching joints, swelling, stiffness, fatigue, and fevers can indicate JA.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and other spondylarthropathies are autoimmune conditions that can attack the point where tendons and ligaments attach to your bone. Symptoms include pain and stiffness, especially in your lower back.
Your spine will likely be affected the most, although some forms can attack your hands and feet. Eventually, bone destruction can occur, causing deformation of your spine and dysfunction of your shoulders and hips.
This group of arthritis is hereditary. Most people who develop spondylarthropathies have the HLA-B27 gene. You’re more likely to be affected if you’re white. It’s more common in men than women.
Other diseases are also associated with the HLA-B27 gene, including reactive arthritis, (formerly known as Reiter’s syndrome), psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthropathy (associated with the gastrointestinal tract), and some forms of juvenile arthritis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is another autoimmune disease that can affect your joints and many types of connective tissue in your body. It can also damage your skin, lungs, kidneys, brain, and other organs.
SLE is more common among women, particularly those with African or Asian ancestry. Common symptoms include joint pain and swelling.
Other symptoms include chest pain, fatigue, fever, uneasiness, hair loss, mouth sores, skin rash on your face, sensitivity to sunlight, and swollen lymph nodes. You may experience more severe effects as the disease progresses.
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the accumulation of urate crystals inside your joints. High levels of uric acid in your blood can put you at risk of gout.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), an estimated 3.9 percent of American adults have gout. That breaks down to 5.9 percent of men and 2.0 percent of women. Age, diet, alcohol use, and family history can affect your risk of developing gout.
Gout can be incredibly painful. A joint in your big toe is most likely to be affected, although it can potentially affect other joints. You may experience redness, swelling, and intense pain in your toes, feet, ankles, knees, hands, or wrists. An acute attack of gout can last 12 to 24 hours. But the pain can linger for weeks. Gout becomes more severe over time.
Infectious and reactive arthritis
Infectious and reactive arthritis
An infection inside one of your joints can cause pain and swelling. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can infect a joint by spreading from another part of your body. This kind of arthritis is often accompanied by a fever and chills. It’s also called septic arthritis.
Reactive arthritis can occur when an infection in one part of your body causes inflammation in a joint elsewhere in your body. The infection often starts in your bladder or sexual organs. For years this condition was known as Reiter’s syndrome.
To diagnose these conditions, your doctor can order tests on samples of your blood, urine, and fluid from inside an affected joint.
Many other forms of arthritis and other conditions can also cause joint pain. A few examples include:
- psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis that can affect people with chronic psoriasis
- fibromyalgia, a condition in which your brain processes pain in your muscles and joints differently, amplifying your perception of the pain
- scleroderma, a condition in which stiffening of your skin and damage to your small blood vessels can lead to joint pain
If you’re experiencing joint pain, stiffness, or other symptoms, talk to your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend a treatment plan.
- Gout. (2016, July 22). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.htm
- Handout on health: Systemic lupus erythematosis. (2016, June). Retrieved from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/default.asp
- Infectious arthritis. (2013). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved August 19, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/infectiousarthritis.html 
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, November 10). Gout. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/basics/definition/con-20019400
- Osteoporosis and arthritis: Two common but different conditions. (2016, May). Retrieved from http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Conditions_Behaviors/osteoporosis_arthritis.asp
- Reveille, J. D. (2013, November). Spondylarthritis. Retrieved from http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Spondyloarthritis
- Types of juvenile arthritis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.kidsgetarthritistoo.org/about-ja/the-basics/types-of-juvenile-arthritis.php
- What is ankylosing spondylitis? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/ankylosing-spondylitis/what-is-ankylosing-spondylitis.php
- What is osteoarthritis? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/what-is-osteoarthritis.php
- What is rheumatoid arthritis? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/what-is-rheumatoid-arthritis.php