Stem Cell

The 3 Most Common Types of Arthritis


What is osteoarthritis?

Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Cartilage functions as your body’s natural shock absorbers. This slippery material at the ends of your bones can break down over time. This “wear and tear” arthritis impacts around 27 million Americans. While it can occur in anyone, osteoarthritis is most common with senior citizens. It is most common over the age of 65. By age 85, one in four adults will develop osteoarthritis.

Some individuals, of course, are at higher risk than others. While the medical community has not identified a gene that causes osteoarthritis, it does clearly run in families. If your parents or siblings develop osteoarthritis, it increases your odds of developing it yourself.

Gender is also an important component in determining your risk for developing osteoarthritis. Up to age 45, men are slightly more likely to develop osteoarthritis. However, after that point, it is much more common in women. Postmenopausal women, who have lower estrogen levels, are much more likely to developing osteoarthritis.

Past injuries put you at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. Due to this, certain occupations put workers at risk of osteoarthritis. Anything with repetitive actions puts unnecessary stress on joints. Poor posture can cause similar issues. When your body is not distributing its weight well, it can grind on your joints. Obesity contributes to this issue as well. Extra weight puts stress on your knees, hips, and spine.

Ordinary tasks, like making your bed or typing on a computer, can become incredibly difficult when your osteoarthritis is unmanaged. Over time, reduced mobility can cause other serious medical problems to develop. Sedentary lifestyles increase the likelihood of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Sadly, this means that osteoarthritis can compound itself over time. People with osteoarthritis have 30% more falls than those without it. During those falls, there is a 20% greater risk of fracture if the patient has osteoarthritis. Narcotics, which are prescribed to reduce pain, can cause dizziness and people with osteoarthritis may lack the muscle strength needed to avoid a fail because of their lack of activity.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

Your symptoms may vary depending on where you experience osteoarthritis. Someone with osteoarthritis will experience some, if not all, of the following symptoms.

  • Pain when walking
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Limited range of motion
  • Swelling around the joint
  • Deep, aching pain
  • Difficulty preforming certain daily tasks, such as:
    • Getting dressed
    • Brushing hair
    • Climbing stairs
    • Bending over
    • Squatting

Osteoarthritis happens most commonly in the lower back, neck, knees, hips, fingers, and toes. When osteoarthritis develops in the hips, pain may feel as though it is in the groin, buttocks, inside of the knee or thigh. Knee osteoarthritis often feels like a grating or scraping sensation during movement.

Bone spurs form on the edge of finger joints that have osteoarthritis. This causes swelling, tenderness or redness of the fingers. Swelling in the toes or ankles can occur with foot osteoarthritis. The base of the big toe may feel pain and tenderness as well.



What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder. It is the result of an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system attacks your body, instead of an outside invader. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the tissue in their joints, causing inflammation. Over time, this results in joint deformity and bone erosion.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by genetics, meaning it does run in families. However, it also is influenced by hormones and environmental factors. Over 1.3 million Americans develop rheumatoid arthritis, usually between the ages of 40 and 60. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, long-term disease that can be debilitating if not treated properly.

What are the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

  • Joint pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Morning stiffness that lasts over 30 minutes
  • More than one joint effected
    • Small joints like wrists affected
    • Joints on both sides of your body affected
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may come and go. A period of intense rheumatoid arthritis symptoms is referred to as a “flare.” A flare may last anywhere from days to months.

Since rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an underlying autoimmune disease, issues can develop outside of just joints. Inflammation can damage your eyes, mouth, skin, lungs, blood vessels, and blood.



What is psoriatic arthritis?

Psoriasis is an immune system problem. The most visible and common symptom is a skin rash. However, people with psoriasis sometimes develop psoriatic arthritis. In most cases, people are diagnosed first with psoriasis and then develop arthritis later. That is not always the case though. Sometimes joint problems develop first.

If a person’s psoriasis presents as lesions on the nails, they are especially likely to develop psoriatic arthritis. Generally, people develop psoriatic arthritis between the ages of 30 and 50.

On rare occasions, people with psoriatic arthritis develop arthritis mutilans, also known as chronic absorptive arthritis. This joint disease destroys the bones over time, leading to permanent deformity. It impacts the hands, fingers, feet or toes.

What are the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis?

The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis. However, in psoriatic arthritis, patients are more likely to experience the following.

  • Swelling in the fingers or toes
  • Foot pain
  • Lower back pain



Early cases of arthritis can be managed very effectively using physical therapy. Keeping up muscle strength can help prevent degradation of joints and stop pain from becoming overwhelming. However, once cases have progressed too far, it is difficult for patients to remain active. That, unfortunately, puts patients at risk for overusing opioids to mask pains.

Regenerative medicine provides an alternative option to chronic pain. Rebuilding the cushioning your body is missing can provide relief. Stem cell injections can help with anything from a slow developing chronic arthritis pain to an old aching sports injury. Make an appointment at the Stem Cell Orthopedic Institute today by calling (210) 293-3136.

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