Arthritis is a painful rheumatic condition that causes joint inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis that can affect the joints and other areas of the body and cause similar symptoms, such as pain, swelling, and stiffness.

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Some common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

Below, we explore these conditions, as well as other diseases that can present with arthritis. We also discuss potential treatment and when to seek medical guidance.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), OA affects over 32.5 million adults in the United States.

Symptoms

Symptoms of OA include:

  • pain and swelling in the joints
  • joint stiffness
  • limited range of motion

People often experience OA symptoms in the hips, hands, and knees.

Risk factors

The following increase the likelihood of developing OA:

  • joint overuse, which can happen due to aging
  • joint injury
  • being female
  • obesity
  • a family history of OA

Learn more about OA here.

RA is an autoimmune condition that causes painful swelling and inflammation in the joints. It typically affects the hands, wrists, and feet.

Symptoms

RA does not only affect joints. It can also cause problems in other organs of the body, including the heart, lungs, and eyes.

While some people experience a sustained progression of the disease, the intensity of symptoms usually comes and goes. Symptoms may include:

  • pain, stiffness, and swelling in several joints at once
  • fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fever

Another characteristic of RA is symmetrical involvement. This means pain and signs of inflammation occur on both sides of the body and in the same joints.

Complications

RA can cause lasting tissue damage, which can lead to:

  • recurring pain
  • destruction of joints
  • deformity or incorrect alignment of joints
  • limited joint mobility

Some people who have RA may also need assistance walking.

Risk factors

Some RA risk factors include:

  • being older
  • being female
  • having specific genes
  • smoking or being exposed to cigarette smoke early in life
  • having never given birth
  • having obesity

Learn more about RA here.

PsA is an autoimmune condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms of PsA include:

  • swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints
  • extreme fatigue
  • nail changes

PsA joint involvement is asymmetric, affecting different joints on either side of the body.

This type of arthritis can develop in people with a skin condition called psoriasis, which causes scaly, flushed, or silvery patches of skin. These patches can look different depending on a person’s skin color.

Learn more about psoriasis on black skin here.

Risk factors

Researchers still do not fully understand what causes this form of arthritis. However, having a family history of PsA may increase a person’s risk of developing this condition.

Learn more about PsA here.

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes painful swelling, often in a single joint at a time.

Symptoms

Symptoms of gout can flare up and go away quickly. They include:

  • pain and swelling
  • flushed skin
  • a joint that feels hot to the touch

Swelling is common in the big toe. Often, it also affects the knee or ankle joint.

Risk factors

A person may be at higher risk of developing gout if they:

Health conditions that may lead to gout include:

Gout may also occur due to metabolic syndrome, which is not a condition in itself. It refers to a number of characteristics, diseases, or habits that can make a person more likely to experience other health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

Learn more about gout here.

This chronic illness is an autoimmune condition that commonly affects females aged 15–44 years.

Lupus is not a type of arthritis in itself. However, arthritis is one of the most common symptoms of this condition.

Symptoms

One symptom of lupus is the characteristic butterfly rash that can develop on the face. Other rashes can also develop on the arms, hands, and face. Rashes can worsen after sun exposure.

While symptoms may differ from person to person, they generally include:

Learn more about lupus here.

Juvenile arthritis, also known as childhood arthritis, affects children or even infants.

Symptoms

Symptoms of juvenile arthritis include:

  • joint pain and swelling
  • joint stiffness
  • a rash
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • eye inflammation
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty carrying out daily activities

Cause

There is no known cause of childhood arthritis. It appears to affect children regardless of race, age, or background.

Learn more about juvenile arthritis here.

Reaching a definitive diagnosis may take time, because many types of arthritis are similar or resemble other conditions.

Typically, a doctor will first check a person’s medical and family history. They will also ask about symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may run tests such as:

Arthritis management depends on the type of arthritis. There are different forms of treatment available.

Medications

Medical treatment for arthritis may involve:

Surgery

Surgery may not be necessary for everyone with arthritis. However, it can benefit certain complications of arthritis that result in malalignment of joints and functional limitations due to damaged joints. It can also help with intractable pain, which is when a person experiences pain that is difficult to treat or manage.

Common surgeries for arthritis include:

Physical therapy

Physical therapy can be a great option for people with arthritis. It can help ease pain or increase activity.

Behavioral changes that can help with arthritis may include:

  • getting regular exercise
  • quitting smoking, if applicable
  • reaching or maintaining a moderate weight
  • eating a healthful diet

Home remedies

Some people find certain home remedies helpful in relieving pain and swelling from certain types of arthritis. These may include:

  • hot and cold therapy
  • mindfulness strategies, such as meditation
  • massage

If a person has experienced joint symptoms that last more than 3 days, they should seek treatment from a healthcare professional.

Similarly, if a person has joint symptoms at different times within a month, they should also contact a doctor.

Medications and other treatments can help a person manage chronic symptoms, such as pain and swelling.

Pain will come and go with many types of arthritis. However, even if the pain resolves, a person should still seek treatment.

It is important to treat arthritis early. If left untreated, some types of arthritis may worsen over time and cause permanent disability.

Arthritis is a painful condition that causes joint inflammation.

Different types of arthritis can cause similar symptoms. It is vital to get the correct diagnosis, as it can help determine most effective treatment options.

The right treatment may also prevent future complications and help a person live a more active life.