How Different Types of Arthritis Affect Your Joints Differently

Do you have joint pain that you think is caused by arthritis? There are over 100 different types of arthritis, and the kind you have can affect what type of pain you experience and how it manifests. Getting the right diagnosis is critical to obtaining the best treatment. 

At CHOICE Pain and Rehabilitation Center, with locations in Olney, Rosedale, Hyattsville, Gaithersburg, Lanham, Dundalk, and Pikesville, Maryland, our experienced medical team can help diagnose your specific type of arthritis and create a sound pain management plan.

Main types of arthritis

There are five major types of arthritis, and each type can have several subtypes. Each form of arthritis can start causing symptoms at a different stage of progression. 

1. Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. It causes not just swelling and pain in the joints, but visible deformities. Doctors usually distinguish rheumatoid arthritis from other types of arthritis from the fact that RA will almost always attack the same joint on both sides of the body, not just a single joint. Blood tests will also reveal an RA marker.

2. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Rather than being an autoimmune disorder, it’s mechanical in origin. The cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones wears down over time, allowing the bones in your joints to rub and scrape against each other. The symptoms of osteoarthritis often don’t include much swelling at first. Instead, you’ll feel sharp pain, and grating, popping, or clicking when you move your joints. Swelling and redness come later as the cartilage disappears.

3. Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis attacks many people who have psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that causes patches of scaly, cracked skin cells. In fact, some people even start to have psoriatic arthritis and joint pain before skin symptoms appear. It usually presents as pain in the lower back, feet, ankles, and toes or fingers.

4. Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia causes widespread musculoskeletal pain with 18 distinct tender points on the body. Having rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of fibromyalgia (10-20% of people with RA also have fibro.) However, RA is an autoimmune, inflammatory condition, while fibro is not, but the symptoms of both are extremely similar. Tests must be run to identify which is causing your pain. In most cases, fibromyalgia is diagnosed by the identification of the tender point and by ruling out all other conditions with similar symptoms.

5. Gout

Gouty arthritis is caused by deposits of uric acid crystals in a joint, usually starting in the big toe and moving into the ankle or foot. It causes massive swelling and pain, and it often affects only a single joint, although, if you have a severe case, multiple points of swelling can occur. Gout usually comes on very suddenly instead of the pain slowly increasing over time.

Treating arthritis pain

Our medical team can offer arthritis diagnosis and pain management options to patients in the Maryland and D.C. region. Your treatment could include physical therapy, injection therapy, splinting or bracing, immune-altering medications, or surgery, depending on the type of arthritis and the severity of your symptoms.

If you want to get to the bottom of your arthritis pain, call the location nearest you or book a convenient appointment online.

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