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The Various Forms of Arthritis

Arthritis and related diseases can cause debilitating, life-changing pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of the adults who have arthritis report that it limits their leisure activities and work. And 25 percent of them say it causes severe pain (seven or higher on a zero to ten point scale).

There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. All of them cause pain in different ways. The following are the more common forms of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common chronic joint condition and affects 27 million people in the U.S. It occurs when cartilage—which normally protects the joints—breaks down, causing the bones to rub against each other to trigger pain and swelling. Although Osteoarthritis mostly affects older people, it can appear in all ages. Your risk is especially high if you are obese or have overused a joint (such as by playing a sport for many years). The knees, hips, lower back and neck, fingers, base of the thumb, and big toe are most often affected.

Psoriatic arthritis affects about 30% of people who have the skin condition psoriasis. The joint pain, stiffness, and swelling that characterize this condition are the result of a reaction in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, causing inflammation. Psoriatic arthritis can affect the finger and toe joints, as well as the wrists, lower back, knees, and ankles.Symptoms range from mild to severe and may appear suddenly or gradually. The joints are usually most painful in the morning or after a period of rest. Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition, meaning it never goes away, but it can be managed with drugs and lifestyle changes.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another chronic autoimmune disease that usually affects the small joints in the hand and wrist on both sides of the body. Some people also have bumps, called rheumatoid nodules, that appear under the skin. Like Psoriatic arthritis, debilitating pain and stiffness from inflammation usually occur in the morning or after resting, but symptoms can last all day. Your joints may be swollen or feel warm to the touch.Over time, Rheumatoid arthritis can affect other parts of the body, such as the lungs (causing shortness of breath) and blood vessels (reducing blood flow). Rheumatoid arthritis patients have and increased risk of heart disease and heart attack. Medications can help slow disease progression. And even though it may seem counterintuitive, gentle exercise is important since it helps maintain strength and flexibility.

Lupus causes joint pain in about 90% of people with have this autoimmune disease. More than half of patients say it was one of the first symptoms they experienced. In addition to pain, joints can be swollen and feel stiff, tender, and warm. The disease tends to affect the extremities of your body such as the knees, ankles, toes, fingers, wrists, and elbows, and is usually symmetric. Stiffness is often worse in the morning, but symptoms can also show up later in the day.Although there isn't a cure for Lupus, treatments help prevent flare ups and reduce symptoms.

Gout is an extremely painful and debilitating form of arthritis—in fact, the pain may so acute that it can wake you up in the middle of the night. Gout typically affects the big toe causing pain, swelling and feeling hot to the touch. This type of arthritis is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Episodes can last three to 10 days and may be triggered by stress or alcohol. Being overweight also puts you at risk, and men are more likely to have the condition than women. The good news is that Gout is treatable.

Lyme disease Joint pain is one of many possible symptoms of the tick-borne illness Lyme disease. While the classic early sign of Lyme is a telltale "bull's-eye" rash, one of the later symptoms (usually appearing weeks or months after a tick bite) is arthritis and joint pain in the knees and other large joints. Usually only one or two joints are affected simultaneously, and episodes tend to become less frequent and less severe as time goes on. If you think you may have Lyme, it’s important to get an early diagnosis and treatment, as well as ongoing medical care.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects more than 3.7 million people in the U.S., and can present symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, and aches and pain in the joints. Episodes can come and go and may be triggered by physical or emotional stress. You’re more likely to get fibromyalgia if you are a woman between the ages of 40 and 75 and are overweight. People with rheumatoid arthritis or lupus also have a greater risk of developing the condition. There's no cure for fibromyalgia, but medications are available to treat the condition. Exercise also helps relieve symptoms.

If you are suffering from symptoms of arthritis, schedule an appointment as soon as possible in order to properly assess and alleviate your joint pain. Please contact our office for a consultation.

For more information or to request an appointment, please contact

Dr. Patrick McDaid, M.D. at

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