A Closer Look at the Different Types of Arthritis

A Closer Look at the Different Types of Arthritis

Although there are more than 100 different specific types of arthritis, they all share one common factor: Your joints are affected. More than 50 million adults and as many as 300,000 children in the United States have some type of arthritis. 

The providers at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates treat numerous types of arthritis and help our patients live as comfortable and active lives as possible. Your joints are crucial for normal activities, and being able to live with arthritis may require the help of a specialist trained in musculoskeletal disorders. 

The three main types of arthritis

The many specific arthritis diagnoses can be divided into three broad categories. The course of the disease, how your abilities are affected, and which treatment is most appropriate all depend on which type—or types—of arthritis you have. 

1. Degenerative arthritis

This is easily the most common type of arthritis, as it includes osteoarthritis. More than 30 million people have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is sometimes referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis. 

As you age, the cartilage that protects and lubricates your joints begins to break down, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, inflammation, and damage to the bones in your joints. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but is most common in the knees, hips, and hands.

2. Inflammatory arthritis

Types of inflammatory arthritis involve your immune system and are also classified as autoimmune disorders. If you have inflammatory arthritis, your immune system mistakes the tissues of your joints for invaders and attacks. Over time, the attacks damage the tissues of your joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, but there are others such as lupus and psoriatic arthritis. Along with affecting your joints, inflammatory arthritis can cause fever, organ damage, and fatigue.

Gout is sometimes also classified as a type of inflammatory arthritis, though it’s caused by a buildup of uric acid in your blood and isn’t considered an autoimmune disorder. 

3. Infectious arthritis

As the name indicates, infectious arthritis is caused by an infection in your joint. The infection can begin in another part of your body, during surgery, or through an open wound. Usually, only one joint is infected. 

Treating arthritis

The best treatment for arthritis depends on many factors, including the type of arthritis you have, your specific diagnosis, how far advanced the disease is, your personal goals, your age, and others. For instance, if you have infectious arthritis, the first step is to clear the infection. 

In many cases, physical therapy can help you strengthen the muscles and other structures that support your joints. When those muscles are stronger, it can help restore your mobility. 

Anti-inflammatory medications are often a first-line treatment, though the most appropriate one depends on your overall health, what other medications you take, and so on. 

Self-management may also play a role in your treatment plan through things like reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, using hot and cold therapy for pain relief, and consuming a nutrient-rich, healthy diet. 

Your provider may also recommend other therapies, such as injections or stem cell therapy. 

If you have joint pain, or you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, schedule a visit with one of the experts at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates. Understanding your diagnosis, learning to manage your condition, and exploring the treatments available to you are important parts of living with arthritis. 

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