Nearly 55 million American adults have a diagnosis of arthritis. That’s more than 15 percent of the country.
Many people know that arthritis causes joint pain. They conjure up images of red and swelling nerves shooting pain up the arms. They’ve heard of different types of arthritis as well.
But what they don’t know is the particulars of those kinds of arthritis. All arthritis causes joint and nerve pain.
But each type is caused by something different. Each has its own symptoms, some of which include other parts of the body.
If you suffer from joint pain, you need to figure out what is causing it. Here is your guide.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the single most common type of arthritis. More than 30 million Americans suffer from it, with 88 percent of patients being 45 years of age or older.
It occurs when the cartilage that covers bones begins to break down. Bones start to rub together, causing pain and stiffness.
Cartilage breaks down as a result of aging. This is why many older people have OA.
But it can result due to injuries, poor posture, and obesity. The disorder runs in families, so there may be a genetic component.
The signs of arthritis can present in any joint. They appear most often in the hands, knees, and lower back.
OA is a progressive condition with five stages. In stage 4, a person can have a complete loss of cartilage in a joint. They may have excessive swelling and difficulty moving.
You can receive treatment for OA, even in advanced stages. Platelet-rich plasma transfers a person’s own platelets into their joints. The platelets provide growth factors that repair cartilage and nerve linings.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. It occurs when the immune system attacks the joints and nerves, triggering pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can affect organs throughout the body. These symptoms often occur in flares, which start and end without warning. Periods of remission take place, in which a person experiences no symptoms.
Since RA presents in the joints, doctors look to the joints to diagnose it. They check for joint function, warmth, and strength.
If the joints are weak and hard to move, a person may have RA. The doctors then run blood tests to look for signs of inflammation and immune overresponse. They can also use tests to show that other disorders are not causing the pain.
There is no cure for RA, though scientists are looking for one. You can take medications to decrease inflammation and block pathways amongst immune cells. You can also exercise, increasing platelet flow to your joints.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is another autoimmune condition. When the immune system attacks healthy tissue at the joints, it can cause skin cells to multiply. As the joints become inflamed, the skin that stretches over them becomes discolored and irritated.
PsA can occur in one joint, or in multiple joints. It can impact your spine, hands, and feet, making movement very painful.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but common ones include scaly skin patches and muscle pain. A person who has PsA in their hands may suffer from nail pitting.
Like RA, there is no cure for PsA. You can manage your condition with anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressants. To treat your skin, you can use creams and ointments.
Exercise can ease stiffness. Try to bike, walk, or jog for at least 30 minutes every day. Do not smoke or drink, as alcohol can interact with medications.
Fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body. Doctors are not sure about the causes of it, but they consider it to be a kind of arthritis. The disorder runs in families and tends to happen to older people.
Fibromyalgia causes pain in the muscles and bones. This pain occurs in “trigger points,” like the back of the head and tops of the shoulders. A person can feel mild achiness or intense discomfort.
Other symptoms include fatigue, headaches, and anxiety. Many patients experience “fibromyalgia fog,” in which they have memory lapses and difficulty concentrating.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia overlap with autoimmune disorders, including RA. There is no test that detects it. Doctors diagnose it through the process of elimination.
There is also no treatment for it. Doctors recommend physical therapy to improve strength and reduce stress on the joints. Support groups provide psychological and emotional support, especially for those with chronic pain.
Systemic lupus erythematosus is another common autoimmune disease. It attacks organs and nerves alike, but it often presents with nerve and joint pain.
The causes of lupus are not known. Stress and medications can stimulate the immune system, causing an episode.
Doctors diagnose lupus through a physical exam. They check for swelling at small joints, namely the hands, feet, and wrists. There is no single test that diagnoses it, so they may run blood tests to eliminate other disorders.
No treatment for lupus exists. Stem cell therapy can provide regenerative cells to damaged organs and nerves. It is a non-invasive procedure that does not trigger an immune response in and of itself.
Lupus can lead to complications like a heart attack. But most people live long lives while managing their condition. You can find psychological support from a group or a trained counselor.
The Different Types of Arthritis
Arthritis can be debilitating. But you’re not on your own. You can get help if you know about the different types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage breaks down, causing joint pain. It occurs to many older people. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune reactions, generating pain throughout the body.
Fibromyalgia also causes pain, with accompanying brain fog and anxiety. Lupus attacks the nerves alongside organs, presenting a range of complications.
Whatever arthritis types you have, you can get help. Rejuvenate Your Health is Lehigh Valley’s leading regenerative medicine clinic. Contact us today.