8 Common Causes of Arthritis You Should Know About

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When you think of arthritis, you might picture an older adult, but some forms of this condition can strike at any age. What causes this painful disease? 

Arthritis can stem from multiple causes. Some of them have to do with your genes, while others hinge more on lifestyle or age. However, you can take steps to ease the pain associated with the disorder. Here are eight common types of arthritis and how to deal with each. 

1. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis results when the cartilage that lines your joints starts to wear thin. This cause of arthritis may be why so many consider the disease one that typically strikes older adults. 

There is good news — osteoarthritis does not necessarily get worse with time. Whether or not your case progresses depends mainly upon your lifestyle choices. 

Please try your best to maintain a healthy weight. Instead of fad diets, aim to reduce calorie intake by around 500 calories per day. This method equates to one pound loss weekly, which doesn’t sound like much — but pounds you shed slowly have a better chance of staying gone. 

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can strike individuals of any age — including children. The word  “rheumatism” refers to your body’s musculoskeletal system, which involves your joints, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and muscles. 

This cause of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes painful inflammation around the joints. In severe cases, it can cause your joints to become gnarled or distorted in appearance. 

Doctors often use methotrexate as the first drug of choice in treating rheumatoid arthritis. However, you must communicate honestly with your doctor — those with alcoholism or women who could become pregnant should not use this medication. This drug can lower your blood cell counts and has caused death in some users who took it every day. 

Newer biologic drugs act like natural proteins in your body, lessening the chance of adverse effects. In some cases, people have reported reducing or eliminating symptoms through dietary modifications, but researchers have yet to replicate these results. 

3. Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis also arises from an autoimmune disorder, and it comes with an unwanted twist — psoriasis. Those affected often get raised red scales, usually around the joints but sometimes on other parts of the body. 

Like rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, individuals may suffer painful flares followed by remission periods. It’s challenging to pinpoint what causes an attack, although stress and environmental factors like foods play roles. 

Psoriatic arthritis that affects the feet can cause your toes to swell, which makes wearing shoes painful. The treatments for this common type of arthritis parallels that for the rheumatoid version. 

4. Gout

Gout is a common type of arthritis that affects only one joint at a time — usually the big toe joint. It results from a condition called hyperuricemia, which means there is too much uric acid in your blood. 

This type of arthritis typically occurs in men who are obese, although it can strike anybody. Your risk increases if you drink alcohol or have a diet high in red meats and some types of seafood, like anchovies. While medications can lower uric acid levels, treatment usually entails altering your lifestyle. 

5. Lupus

Lupus is yet another form of arthritis resulting from an autoimmune disease. Unlike rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, however, it doesn’t stop at your joints or skin. This disorder can impact your internal organs. 

Four types of lupus exist, and women between the ages of 15 to 44 are at the highest risk. Treatments for the disorder include anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids like prednisone. Doctors also use biologics and immunosuppressant medications and may prescribe additional measures for complications like high blood pressure and seizures.  

6. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis 

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is an adolescent form of adult rheumatoid arthritis that strikes before the age of 16. Symptoms may appear as young as six months of age.

The first signs often include swelling and warmth around the joints. Many sufferers experience high fevers that often increase in the evenings. Patients can also get uveitis, or inflammation of the iris, which can lead to blindness if left untreated. 

7. Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis sounds like a mouthful, but it’s a fancy term for arthritis that affects your spine. It can lead to ongoing and severe back pain. 

In extreme cases, the condition leads to ankylosis — the growth of new bone that fuses the existing vertebrae. Unfortunately, the disease has a strong genetic component — 95% of people have a genetic marker known as HLA-B27. However, it doesn’t work alone — researchers have identified over 60 genes that may contribute to date.

Newer drugs like biologics can slow disease progression. Practices like yoga can ease some of the pain associated with the condition. 

8. Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis results when a pathogen — usually a bacterium or virus — gets into the synovial fluid that cushions your joints. Fortunately, this common type of arthritis responds well to early treatment. However, if left untreated, it can cause permanent disability. 

Since the infection lies deep within your body, your doctor may prescribe a course of intravenous antibiotics. You may also need to take oral medications for weeks. Occasionally, a fungus causes inflammation, in which case, you’ll need to take an antifungal. Fortunately, it is possible to make a full recovery. 

Learn About These 8 Common Types of Arthritis

It’s vital to learn about these eight common types of arthritis. Now that you know the signs, you can have an educated discussion with your doctor about your treatment options.

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