Joint Pain & Arthritis - Which Type Do You Have? | Health 101

Health 101

Types of Joint Pain and Arthritis

Joint pain is on the rise. By 2040, nearly 80 million U.S. adults are expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis1.


Talk to your doctor if you have joint pain. You may be referred to a specialist called a rheumatologist for further diagnosis and treatment.


Joint pain is not limited to just one condition. However, it is a common symptom in certain types of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis. This is the most common chronic joint condition. Cartilage breaks down and makes the bones rub directly against each other. This can cause pain and swelling. This typically affects the knees, lower back, neck, hips, fingers and toes.
  • Psoriatic arthritis. This occurs in about 30 percent of people who have psoriasis and usually impacts finger and toe joints, in addition to wrists, knees, ankles and back.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This typically impacts small joints in the hand and wrist. Your immune system mistakenly attacks your body’s own tissues and affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling.
  • Gout. This extremely painful type of arthritis is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. It typically impacts the big toe. Gout episodes can last anywhere from three to 10 days and may be triggered by stress or alcohol.


Different types of joint pain and arthritis will be treated differently. Your doctor may choose to prescribe you a medication. These may include over-the-counter medicines that help reduce pain but have no effect on inflammation.  Corticosteroids reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system but must be taken orally or injected directly into the joint.


Additionally, physical therapy may be helpful for certain types of joint pain. These exercises can improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints. Finally, your doctor may also suggest surgery, which could include joint repair, joint replacement and joint fusion.


Your joints are important because they form the connection between bones. If you have joint pain, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. Once you are diagnosed, your doctor will help you reduce your pain and inflammation and also preserve joint function.



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