woman grasping wrist

The Three Most Common Types of Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints that can cause debilitating pain. Though it’s most commonly diagnosed in those over the age of 65, arthritis can also trouble children and younger adults.

The Arthritis Foundation estimates arthritis affects over 50 million people in the United States today. To find the best treatment options, it’s important to understand what kind of arthritis you have — there are over 100 different types. Here are three of the most common:

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Also called degenerative arthritis, OA affects an estimated 27 million people in the U.S. More people are affected by this type than any other as it’s usually caused by the wear and tear of joints with age. However, osteoarthritis can also occur with joint injuries or obesity.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis:

  • Soreness or aching
  • Stiffness in the morning or after resting
  • Swelling and warmth to the touch
  • Decreased range of motion

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

More commonly seen in women than men, RA is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body, particularly the joints. Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes RA, though some believe this common type of arthritis is spurred by a prior bacterial or viral infection.

Left untreated, the inflammation of RA can lead to severe joint damage. The symptoms are often more severe and complicated than osteoarthritis.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Stiffness in the morning
  • Pain and swelling in multiple joints
  • Symmetrical pattern of inflammation (i.e., pain in the same joint on both sides of the body)
  • Numbness, warmth, burning, and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Loss of appetite

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

About 10-30% of people with the chronic skin condition psoriasis will also develop PsA. Though this type of arthritis typically develops between the ages of 30 and 50, it can also affect children. For some people, PsA only causes problems in one joint, such as a knee.

Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis:

  • Inflamed patches of skin with scales (psoriasis)
  • Swollen, pink fingers and toes
  • Pitted or discolored fingernails
  • Pain in spine, single joint, or multiple joints

How Is Arthritis Diagnosed and Treated?

If you’re experiencing a limited range of motion or pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints, your primary care physician is an excellent place to start. Along with a physical exam, they may order blood tests and imaging scans to identify the causes of your symptoms.

For arthritis affecting your hands, wrists, arms, elbows, and shoulders, the physicians at Philadelphia Hand to Shoulder Center provide advanced diagnostics and cutting-edge treatments. Our main goals are to:

  • Reduce the amount of pain
  • Improve joint function
  • Prevent further damage 

While there is no cure for arthritis, medication, surgery, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes are options that can significantly boost your quality of life. Contact our expert health professionals for the best orthopedic care in Philadelphia and the surrounding communities.

Call Now Button