At its core, arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in your joints. The road to these symptoms, however, isn’t a single one as there are more than 100 different types of the disease. These types are typically grouped into four categories.
To help you better understand the many forms of arthritis, the team here at Summit Pain Alliance thought we’d take this opportunity to explain the four major categories of arthritis and how they all lead to the same result — joint pain and inflammation, which can greatly affect your ability to move without pain.
This form of arthritis accounts for the majority of arthritis diagnoses. Currently, the CDC reports that more than 54 million adults in the United States have doctor-diagnosed arthritis and, of this number, 32.5 million have osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of degenerative arthritis.
Also called wear-and-tear arthritis, degenerative forms of arthritis occur when the cartilage inside your joints begins to break down, leaving your bones unprotected. As a result, inflammation and pain develop, which can place considerable limitations on your ability to use the joint.
With this type of arthritis, your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints, causing excess inflammation and damage. The most common type of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disorder in which your immune system attacks the linings inside your joints. RA affects about 1.3 million people in the United States. Also included in this category is psoriatic arthritis.
Researchers still don’t understand why your body’s immune system reacts this way, but they believe that genetics and environment play key roles.
If certain organisms gain access to your body (bacteria, viruses, or fungi), it can lead to an infection that affects the health of your joints. For example, salmonella and shigella, which are forms of food poisoning, can lead to arthritis. As well, certain sexually transmitted infections, namely chlamydia and gonorrhea, can also lead to joint problems.
The primary form of arthritis in this category is gout, which occurs when your body builds up too much uric acid. When that happens, sharp crystals can form in your joints, which can lead to significant pain. Gout most often affects your big toe, but it can attack other joints in your body, such as your ankles or knees.
Tackling gout often comes down to dietary changes as the excess uric acid is mostly caused by eating foods that contain high levels of purine, such as red meat.
No matter which type of arthritis is affecting you, the good news is that we offer a wide range of solutions that can help you treat the pain and inflammation and restore your quality of life. To find out which treatment is best for your arthritis, contact one of our two locations in Santa Rosa or Petaluma, California.