One in 81 people in India have rheumatoid arthritis. A condition in which one or more joints swell and undergo inflammation. Joints, tissues, and other connective tissues are affected under arthritis. There are five types of arthritis; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and lupus.
While the specific symptoms of each type are different, patients suffering from any of these conditions experience joint pain and stiffness. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but the above five are the most common.
Different Types of Arthritis and Their Specific Symptoms
The word “osteo” means bones. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis, and it’s the wear and tear of the joints. Mostly osteoarthritis happens with age. As age progresses, the joints get weaker. Another common cause of osteoarthritis is an injury or obesity. These conditions exert extra pressure on the joints, making them weak over time.
Osteoarthritis mostly affects the joints of the knees, hips, feet, and spine. These are the areas that get the most weight, and they also turn weak over the years. One line of difference between osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis is that in the former, the patients won’t get fatigue or feel sick.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:
- Pain and discomfort in the affected joints.
- Stiffness in joints.
- Joints will get tender after a little pressure.
- Joints will not be able to move freely as before.
- Sounds of popping and cracking are common in osteoarthritis.
- There will be some soft tissue inflammation around the joints.
One of the main causes of osteoarthritis is cartilage around the bone ends, and joints deteriorate with age. Also called a Wear and Tear disease, osteoarthritis also affects the entire joint. It also leads to the deterioration of the connective tissues, which bind the joints together and attach them to the bone.
Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis
Doctors target this condition with three types of treatment after successful diagnosis, and the same applies to all types of arthritis. For osteoarthritis, the first line of attack is medication. Common names are Acetaminophen and Duloxetine. Some over-the-counter drugs include Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium.
In addition to medication, doctors also recommend therapy, including physical therapy and occupational therapy. Some patients are also recommended for Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
The last option for treating osteoarthritis is surgery and injections. These include cortisone injections for pain relief, lubrication injections for pain relief, and realigning bone surgery (osteotomy). If nothing else works, the patient has to undergo joint replacement surgery.
2. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is one of the most common types of arthritis, falling in the category of autoimmune disease. In this, the immune system attacks the human body, in particular, the joints causing arthritis. The joints undergo inflammation and aggravate severe damage.
In worse cases, the patients also develop lumps on the skin called rheumatoid nodules. These nodules form over joint areas, including elbows, knuckles, and heels.
One in five people suffering from arthritis have to deal with the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. Ironically, the doctors have not yet deciphered the exact cause of this condition. One possible explanation is that the immune system gets confused when an infectious bacteria or virus attacks the joints.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis RA
- Patients experience stiffness, pain, and swelling in their hands, shoulders, knees, feet, ankles, jaw, neck, and wrists.
- There are numerous swollen joints in the affected areas.
- Pain in left-hand knuckles also travels to pain in right-hand knuckles and vice versa.
- Inflammation in the left-hand knuckles travels to the right-hand knuckles, and they also get inflammation.
- Patients have to deal with morning stiffness, and in this case, it can last for hours and days.
These symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may differ in severity. In some cases, they can even come and go. There may be periods of heightened pain and increased inflammation. The swelling can come and disappear. If not checked on time, these symptoms can lead the joints to deform and move out of their original position.
Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Doctors use blood and imaging tests to find out the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Once diagnosed, the treatment begins with medication, including NSAIDs and Steroids, including corticosteroid (prednisone). Some patients are prescribed conventional DMARDs, which are known to slow the disease progression. The medicines here include methotrexate, leflunomide, and sulfasalazine.
The next option is therapy, in which the therapists recommend exercises and help keep the joints flexible. In addition to the exercises, the therapists also suggest new ways of completing daily activities.
Another line of defense is surgery, in which the doctors repair or replace the affected joints. After surgery, the joint can return to its original functionality and not cause discomfort and pain.
3. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is diagnosed when the patients have inflammation in the joints and skin. In this, the skin is swollen, raised, and patchy with red and white areas. In most cases, the condition manifests in the elbows, knees, scalp, and navel. In some cases, the skin around the genital or anus area is also affected. At times, psoriasis aggressively progresses to psoriatic arthritis.
Generally, psoriatic arthritis is seen in people of age 30 to 50 years and older. But it has also been seen in children. Before psoriatic arthritis, the patients are diagnosed with psoriasis.
Symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis
- Swelling and inflammation in the fingers and toes is common.
- Discoloured or pitted fingernails.
- In addition to the pain in joints, in this condition, the patients also experience lower back pain. As a result, a condition develops – spondylitis.
- The nails can also form tiny dents and separate from nail beds.
- Due to a condition called Uveitis, eye pain and blurry vision can occur in this psoriatic arthritis.
Treatment for Psoriatic Arthritis
The detection and diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis is finalised after X-rays and MRI tests. The doctors also check Rheumatoid factors and conduct a joint fluid test. Upon diagnosis, the treatment begins to control the disease, as there is no cure for psoriatic arthritis. The common medications include NSAIDs (Ibuprofen and naproxen). Conventional DMARDs are given to check the progression of the condition.
The patients are also prescribed biological agents meant to target different immune system pathways. Among the latest medications, doctors are also prescribing Apremilast, which is an oral medication required to control inflammation.
Some physical therapies are recommended by doctors for pain management. Surgical procedures are also recommended, particularly for joint replacement surgery.
In Gout, uric acid crystals collect in a joint. Most of the time, the affected area is the big toe or other parts of the foot. Gout, as a condition, manifests in the form of an attack. People with this condition get gout attacks. One of the most common causes for this type of arthritis is drinking at night before sleep. However, it also commonly affects people who take drugs and have stress.
In general, a gout attack lasts for between three to ten days. If left unchecked, it can get worse. There is no fixed frequency of a gout attack. The second attack can happen weeks, months, or years after the first one. However, people with this type of arthritis will get more frequent attacks over time.
Symptoms of Gout
- Severe pain in joints, especially the big toe. But the same type of pain can also exist in the knees, ankles, fingers, wrists, and elbows.
- Constant discomfort even after the pain vanishes.
- Redness and inflammation of the joint. The joints will turn red, swell, and go tender.
- It will be hard to move the affected areas.
Treatment of Gout
Medications for gout focus on two problems;
- Reducing inflammation and the pain that comes with it.
- Preventing complications from gout.
While prescribing the medications, the doctors check the frequency and severity of the condition. They also need to check for other health conditions that may arise from gout.
For this purpose, doctors prescribe medications like NSAIDS and others from the category of Colchicine and Corticosteroids. Medications that prevent gout complications and uric acid production include allopurinol and febuxostat.
The last common type of arthritis is lupus, also called SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus). This is also an autoimmune disease and can also affect joints and other organs in the body. The doctors have not been able to find the exact cause of lupus. In patients diagnosed with lupus, the immune system starts attacking the body instead of the virus.
Due to this, inflammation and pain runs through the joints, brain and other organs. According to the reports, lupus has been known to affect African-American women between the ages of 15 to 44.
Symptoms of Lupus
- Pain in joints.
- Swelling in the joints, feet, legs, hands, and even the area around the eyes.
- Mouth sores and rashes.
- Increased sensitivity to the sun.
- Loss of hair.
- Blood-related conditions like anaemia and lower levels of WBCs.
Treatment for Lupus
Lupus has no cure, but doctors prescribe medications for controlling the condition and pain management. The most common medications include NSAIDs and Corticosteroids. These medicines are given to reduce pain, swelling, and tenderness, and calm the immune system.
In addition to these medications, the patients are also given anti-malarial drugs to treat joint pain, skin rashes, and lung inflammation. Another type of medication given is BLyS-specific inhibitors, which are given to control the abnormal B cells.
These are the five most common types of arthritis which are prevalent today. Out of these two types of arthritis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis affect a large cohort of the population.
Arthritis’ menace is increasing over the years. The real issue is that the medical community is not aware of the causes of a few types of arthritis. In these conditions, the treatment focuses on controlling the condition and the disease. As there are different types of arthritis, one type of treatment may not prove effective; hence, the right diagnosis is critical for effective treatment. At Santokh Hospital, we provide the best treatment and management for all types of arthritis.