What Is Arthritis?
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but about 10 percent of those are considered common, leaving a handful to account for the majority of arthritis cases. Certain types of arthritis can be difficult to diagnose, so it's important for you to be evaluated by a doctor to ensure an accurate diagnosis of your condition. Your treatment regimen depends on an accurate diagnosis, and early diagnosis and treatment are imperative for controlling symptoms and managing the disease.
The medical term
Most types of arthritis are chronic, meaning they last a long time, as opposed to acute conditions, which are of brief duration. Symptoms of arthritis may flare in an acute pattern, but the disease itself is chronic and lasts a lifetime for most afflicted people.
Rheumatism is further divided according to the location and characteristics of symptoms (e.g. localized rheumatism, regional rheumatism, generalized rheumatism).
Arthritis can be likened to a subset of the rheumatic diseases. Arthritis is characterized by joint pain, joint stiffness, joint inflammation, joint damage, and in some cases joint deformity. For example, lupus is a rheumatic disease that is also considered an autoimmune disease involving the organs and joints. Because joint pain and joint inflammation are prominent characteristics of lupus, the disease is considered a type of arthritis, as well as a rheumatic disease.
Going forward, you will learn more about arthritis in general and the different types of arthritis. You will learn how their symptoms can overlap, making diagnosis sometimes difficult. You will learn about the common types of arthritis and some of the less common types.
Be open to learning as much as you possibly can about arthritis. According to research from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), patients who are well informed and actively participate in their own health care have less pain and make fewer visits to the doctor.
Before learning anything else about arthritis, many people want to know up front if there is a cure for the disease. The short answer: There is no cure for arthritis.
Recognizing the symptoms, knowing when to see a doctor, being compliant with treatment, and never giving up are important patient goals. Learning about osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and other types of arthritis will help you recognize overlapping symptoms between the conditions and learn what characteristics distinguish one condition from another. Ultimately, what you, as an arthritis patient, need to focus on should become clearer.