Do you sometimes experience sore muscles and joints, and are you worried that it could be due to illness? Then keep reading. Here you will find information about arthritis, the most common types of arthritis, their symptoms and how to tell them apart.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an overall term covering diseases in the musculoskeletal system as well as rheumatological diseases. There are more than 200 different types of arthritis, each with its own underlying cause and symptoms. However, all types affect bones, muscles, ligaments and joints and thus reduce the body’s level of function. Besides this, the various types of arthritis often involve symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and joint stiffness. However, the symptoms vary depending on the specific type of arthritis. Symptoms also vary from person to person. Two of the most common types are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
What are the symptoms and causes of arthritis?
The risk of many types of arthritis, including OA and RA, increases with age. Obesity, physical inactivity, genetic dispositions and previous musculoskeletal injuries are factors which increase the risk of developing OA. OA is a chronic degenerative disease causing the cartilage that covers the end of bones to slowly break down. OA typically affects knees, hips and the lower back, as these areas are often under a lot of strain. While some people live with arthritis without any symptoms, others experience intense joint pain, joint stiffness and clicking and cracking sounds when a joint bends. There is no cure for OA, but symptoms like pain and inflammation can be managed with medications, exercise and a healthy diet.
RA is another type of arthritis causing decreased level of function because the joints are inflamed. All joints might be affected by RA, but typically small joints like wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet are affected. The inflammation of the joint causes swelling, redness, tenderness, stiffness and warmth, especially in the morning. Eventually, the inflammation of the joint can cause joint deformity and the function of the joint is thus lost.
The inflammatory condition of the body will often lead to symptoms such as fatigue, fever and weight loss. The cause of RA remains unclear, but both family history and lifestyle, especially smoking, are known to play a significant role. There is currently no cure for RA, but the pain and inflammation can be managed using different medications, which also slow the disease activity.
If you experience joint pain or stiffness over an extended period of time, or if you feel that your range of motion decreases, it is important to consult you GP to get the right diagnosis and to get early treatment. Early treatment can help alleviate the disease so it doesn’t affect your quality of life as much as it would have without treatment. At the same time, the treatment can be used to slow or stop the course of the disease, depending on the type of arthritis.