Usually, when a person is said to have arthritis, the specific type of arthritis is not mentioned or even discussed. However, there are actually several different types of arthritis. Each type displays similar symptoms, including the joint pain and stiffness that is most often associated with arthritis. However, each type of arthritis manifests in a slightly different way, and may need to be treated in a different way as well. Learning more about the different forms arthritis can take can help patients and family understand the condition more fully.

The most common and well-known type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the joints begin to break down, either due to everyday wear and tear or because of genetics. This form of arthritis may affect large portions of the body, or it may only attack a specific area, such as the knees or fingers. As the protective coating around the joint breaks down, stiffness, swelling and pain occur. This can lead to reduced flexibility and mobility. There is no cure for the condition, but osteoarthritis can often be managed through physical therapy and a healthy lifestyle.

Another common arthritis type is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, in which the body begins to attack the protective sheathes around the joints. The exact cause of the disease is still unknown, but many doctors and scientists believe that either genetic or outside triggers, such as an infection, could cause the condition to manifest. As the joints undergo more stress, they begin to break down. This can lead to severe pain and stiffness, and may eventually result in the fusing of joints. Like osteoarthritis, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, many different medications have been shown to make a big difference for some patients. Strengthening the joints and muscles through physical therapy or exercise can also help to alleviate the symptoms of the condition.

Other types of arthritis include septic arthritis, gout and juvenile arthritis. Septic arthritis occurs when an infection occurs at a joint. This then leads to arthritis symptoms, including pain and stiffness, in that joint. Gout is a buildup of uric acid which causes intense pain and swelling in a particular area. Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune condition which manifests in children and teens. In addition to these conditions, symptoms that closely resemble arthritis can occur due to a number of different diseases and conditions.