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Types of Arthritis & Related Rheumatic Conditions

Posted Dec 07 2009 12:00am


Osteoarthritis develops from the wearing away of joint cartilage. It is degenerative in nature and the substantial damage caused by excessive strain on the joints and its bordering tissues is characterized by:

difficulty of movement

In its early stages, osteoarthritis is rarely symptomatic and mostly non-inflammatory. It develops slowly and is difficult to detect because it affects only a minimum number of joints. More often than not, osteoarthritis strikes the:


Advancing age increases the risk of acquiring osteoarthritis. Trauma to the joints, obesity and repetitive joint use comprise the other risk factors of the disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the synovium, the cell lining within the joint, is mistakenly damaged by the bodys' own immune system. This type of arthritis is a chronic autoimmune syndrome which is potentially disabling. It is often marked by:

joint pain
joint incapacity

Rheumatoid arthritis is difficult to pin down at its onset due to the minimal number of symptoms. The causes of this type of arthritis are still unknown, but physicians are pointing to heredity as one of its chief causes.

Juvenile Arthritis

Children can also be afflicted by a type of arthritis known as juvenile arthritis. It is the most common form of arthritis that besets children. The three major kinds of juvenile arthritis are:

pauciarticular (affecting only a minimum number of joints)
polyarticular (involving more than several joints)
systematic (impacting the whole body)

Indicators of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are different for each child, and a variety of tests are needed to determine the appropriate diagnosis. Children suffering from juvenile arthritis have to ascertain the presence of the disease for over a month before it can be correctly identified.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Five percent of people with psoriasis (a chronic skin disorder) are affected by psoriatic arthritis. Like rheumatoid arthritis, the joints, and in some cases the spine, are subjected to inflammation.


Although this disorder does not involve joint deformity, this soft tissue and muscular rheumatism leads to muscle, ligament and tendon pain, and is indicated by:

chronic tiredness
inferior sleep
muscle soreness

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Another painful type of arthritis is Gout. This form of the disease is characterized by unexpected bursts of intense pain, soreness, warmth and reddening of the affected areas, and joint swelling, particularly in the big toe. Gout is believed to be the result of excess uric acid crystals which are leached out of the blood and settle within the joint.

Pseudogout / CPPD

Calcium phosphate crystals which form in the joints can cause Calcium Pyrophosphate Dihydrate Deposition Disease (CPPD), or Psuedogout. The symptoms of Psuedogout are very similar to Gout, and as a result, it is often misdiagnosed as gouty arthritis. Management and treatment of CPPD is different, as well.


Hardening and thickening of the surrounding skin characterizes Scleroderma, a disorder affecting the connective tissues of the body. Two types of this disease, both the localized and generalized forms, also impair other parts of the body like the:

blood vessels
internal organs

Lupus / Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Another autoimmune disease, Systemic lupus erythematosus causes anaemia, arthritis, chronic tiredness, fever, hair loss, kidney complications, mouth ulcers and skin eruptions. Nearly 90 percent of sufferers are women, particularly those of childbearing age. However, children and older adults can also contract the disease. Lupus affects the:

blood vessels
nervous system
internal organs
surrounding skin

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome begins with tingling and numbness in the fingers caused by stress on the wrists median nerve. This condition can set in slowly or with unexpected abruptness. While it is dissimilar to other types of arthritis, it sometimes linked to other forms of the disease, like rheumatoid arthritis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

This chronic inflammatory condition of the spine can cause fusion of the vertebrae, resulting in rigidity of the spinal column. The disease starts by settling into the tissue surrounding the joint, causing lingering stiffness and pain in the lower back.

Medical science has yet to discover the exact cause of this disease, which affects other joints in addition to the spine. It has been noted, however, that spondylitis sufferers all have HLA-B27, a genetic marker setting apart people who have the highest risk of acquiring the disorder. Men aged between 16 to 35 are the ones usually affected, although the disease can also strike women.

Bursitis / Tendonitis

These types of arthritis are recognized by their chiefly inflammatory symptoms. Bursitis is characterized by inflamed bursa sacs, fluid-filled sacs that help muscles and tendons move smoothly across the bones. Tendonitis, or tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons, connective elastic tissue found between the bones and muscles. The tendon sheath is also susceptible to inflammation, leading to a disorder known as tenosynovitis. In all cases, the inflammation results in stiff and painful movement.

Guide to Bursitis
Guide to Tendinitis

Infectious Arthritis

Bacteria, virus and fungi are the culprits involved in Infectious arthritis. To diagnose this type of arthritis, culturing a tissue sample from the infected joint determines the existence of these microorganisms. Infectious arthritis comes in several forms, namely:

Septic arthritis caused by a bacterial invasion.
Tuberculous arthritis common in tuberculosis sufferers.
Fungal arthritis stemming from fungal infection.
Gonococcal arthritis occurring with those infected with gonorrhoea.
Viral arthritis resulting from viral infections.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. This disorder usually targets:

nervous system

Reactive Arthritis

Also known as Reiter's syndrome, Reactive arthritis causes inflammation of the joints, particularly in the areas of ligament and tendon connection. Sufferers of this type of arthritis experience other illnesses like:

skin sores

Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjorgren's Syndrome causes irregularity in the functions of the moisture-producing glands of the body, resulting in dryness in the salivary and lacrimal (tear-producing) glands. This disorder is also characterized by other physical indicators.


This degenerative bone disease leads to weak, brittle bones and loss of bone tissue, increasing the risk of breaks and fractures. It is a preventive non-symptomatic disorder creeps up slowly and becomes apparent in advanced age, particularly in women.

Other Forms of Rheumatic Diseases

Avascular Necrosis - also recognized by the medical term, osteonecrosis
Behcet's Disease - characterized by chronic inflammation.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - CRPS, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis - causes calcification in the spinal disks.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease - commonly accompanied by complications of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Mixed Connective Tissue Diseases - a combination of several rheumatic diseases.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica - caused by giant cell arteritis.
Raynaud's Phenomenon - primarily affects the blood vessels, causing them to constrict.
Vasculitides - a disease characterized by inflamed blood vessels.

Keith Tennent is a medical researcher and a fitness enthusiast. He has overcome personal health difficulties and now teaches others to improve their health. His advice is factual and simple to understand. Whether your interest is in improving your mental health in things like concentration and memory, or your physical health like overcoming arthritis or asthma. He has written many other articles which are available free at

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