The Three Most Diagnosed Forms of Arthritis

Orthopaedic & Spine Center
Forms of Arthritis

By Boyd W. Haynes III, MD

The Arthritis Foundation website tells us that there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. There are three forms of Arthritis that affect the most people around the world and I will detail those for you, their specific symptoms, what causes them and how they are diagnosed and treated.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is the kind many people will have if they live long enough.  Affects close to 50+ million persons in the US alone.

Causes

This “wear-and-tear” arthritis is thought to be caused by genetics, injury, overuse, obesity or a combination of these.  It is not caused by an auto-immune issue.

Symptoms

  1. Joint pain, tenderness
  2. Joint swelling, stiffness
  3. Fatigue
  4. Tends to be symmetrical in pattern

How Diagnosed

Diagnosed through medical history, exam and x-rays

Treatment

The drugs may be used separately or in combination:

  • Corticosteroids – oral or injected
  • NSAIDS (for pain and inflammation reduction)
    • Cox-2 inhibitors
  • Visco-supplementation injections into the knee
  • Physical Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Stem Cell Injections & Platelet Rich Plasma
  • Surgery (to repair/replace damaged joints)

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This form of arthritis is an auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack and destroy its own joints.  If untreated, it can be horribly disfiguring and disabling for the person who has it.  Affects about 1.5 million persons in the US. Affects more women than men, by a ratio of 3:1

Symptoms

  1. Joint pain, tenderness
  2. Joint swelling, stiffness
  3. Fatigue
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Low grade fever
  6. Symmetrical in pattern
  7. Can also attack organs, cardiovascular & respiratory systems, eyes

How Diagnosed

Blood test for rheumatic factors, medical history, physical exam, x-rays

Treatment

Must be aggressive to arrest inflammation, joint destruction and achieve remission.  The drugs may be used separately or in combination:

  • Corticosteroids
  • DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs)
    • JAK inhibitors (block the Janus kinase pathways of the immune response
  • Biologics (target a specific process in the immune response)
  • NSAIDS (for pain and inflammation reduction)
    • Cox-2 inhibitors
  • Surgery (to repair/replace damaged joints)

Psoriatic Arthritis

This form of arthritis is more rare and affects individuals who have the auto-immune disorder of psoriasis. It usually affects those with skin psoriasis, but not always.  Most tend to have a family history of psoriasis.  Not every person with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.  In fact, only about 15% will. Affects large joints and joints of the hands, feet and back. Men and women are affected equally.

Cause

Unknown, however Genetics, family history and an infection or illness that triggers the immune system to over-respond have been theorized as triggers.

Symptoms

  1. Joint pain, tenderness
  2. Joint swelling, stiffness
  3. Tendon and ligament pain
  4. “Sausage” fingers and toes
  5. Skin rashes
  6. Nail changes
  7. Fatigue
  8. Asymmetrical in pattern
  9. Can also attack organs, cardiovascular & respiratory systems, eyes

How Diagnosed

Blood test to rule out other forms of arthritis, medical history and pattern of symptoms.  The presence of psoriasis, skin and nail changes are also indicative.

Treatment

Must be aggressive to arrest inflammation, joint destruction and achieve remission.  The drugs may be used separately or in combination:

  • Corticosteroids
  • DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs)
    • JAK inhibitors (block the Janus kinase pathways of the immune response
  • Biologics (target a specific process in the immune response)
  • NSAIDS (for pain and inflammation reduction)
    • Cox-2 inhibitors
  • Surgery (to repair/replace damaged joints)