4 Common Types of Arthritis: Symptoms and Treatments

Feb 12, 2024

4 Common Types of Arthritis: Symptoms and Treatments

Any type of arthritis can wreak havoc on your life, well-being, and productivity. Learn about the four most common types and your best options for treatment.

People with arthritis are well aware of the stiffness, pain, and swelling that often accompanies their condition. While these symptoms are common with all types of arthritis, different types originate in different parts of the joints and vary in the type of damage they cause. 

North Point Orthopaedics proudly helps patients manage their arthritis with individualized care. Our providers use the latest advancements in joint medicine to alleviate pain, decrease swelling, and help people maintain as much joint function as possible.

Of the over 100 different types of arthritis, four stand out as the most common. In this blog, we’ll discuss these four joint conditions, their impacts, and what you can do to manage them. 

1. Osteoarthritis

The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis, affects around 500 million people worldwide, more than 32 million of them in the US. This type gets worse as time goes on, with increasing stiffness and pain as the damage within your joints accumulates. 

If you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage topping your bones wears down over time. This causes the bones to grate together when you move your joints, which results in inflammation, stiffness, and pain. 

Options for treatment

As one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, osteoarthritis requires diligent care. An individualized treatment plan can help your joints stay functional and may help you avoid surgery in the future. 

Since obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis, weight management is often the first line of nonsurgical treatment. Managing your weight reduces stress on your joints, especially weight-bearing joints like your knees and hips. 

You might also benefit from:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Joint-friendly exercises
  • Steroid injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy

Joint replacement surgery is a last-resort treatment that can restore the function of joints affected by osteoarthritis. 

1. Rheumatoid arthritis

The second most common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. It’s an autoimmune condition that arises from immune system dysfunction. When your immune system mistakenly attacks the tissue lining the inside of a joint, rheumatoid arthritis is the result. 

Like osteoarthritis, the primary symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are inflammation, pain, and swelling around affected joints. It, too, is progressive, so it generally worsens over time. Since rheumatoid arthritis is connected to your immune system, it can also cause fatigue, weakness, and low-grade fever. Symptoms tend to worsen during flares, which happen due to stress, overactivity, and other triggers. 

Options for treatment

Properly managing your rheumatoid arthritis can minimize flares, maintain joint function, and help you avoid surgery. Individualized care might involve:

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Biologic medications
  • Joint-friendly exercises
  • Corticosteroids
  • Weight management
  • Rest during flares

Your care plan at North Point Orthopaedics is tailored according to your needs and prioritizes nonsurgical treatment. 

2. Infectious (septic) arthritis

Infectious or septic arthritis is sudden and painful, stemming from an infection inside the affected joint. It typically occurs in just one joint and comes from bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (a staph infection). 

Infectious arthritis can cause the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Joint pain
  • Chills
  • Fever

Infectious arthritis can cause extensive and permanent joint damage, so treating it right away is critical for the future of your joint. 

Options for treatment

Infectious arthritis treatment focuses on controlling the infection instead of controlling only the  symptoms. Treatment typically involves two main approaches:


Antibiotics are medications that fight bacterial infections. The type of infection causing your arthritis dictates the type of antibiotic you should take to treat it. If your joint infection comes from something other than bacteria, you’ll get other medications based on your needs. For example, antifungal medications treat fungal infections. 

Joint drainage 

Joint drainage is a procedure to remove synovial fluid that has accumulated in your infected joint. The procedure alleviates pain and inflammation. If this isn’t sufficient, your specialist might recommend arthroscopy or open joint surgery. 

3. Post-traumatic arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis is joint damage that originates from an injury to the affected joint. This type tends to resolve spontaneously, but while it’s active, the symptoms include the typical arthritic pain and stiffness. 

Options for treatment

If you get an acute joint injury, specialists do what they can to treat it at the time. Your treatment might involve surgery, medications, physical therapy, and immobilization. 

If you develop post-traumatic arthritis, your treatment focuses on minimizing arthritis symptoms and slowing the disease progression if it becomes chronic. You might benefit from:

  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing
  • Weight management
  • Corticosteroids

Joint replacement surgery is a final resort for post-traumatic arthritis that doesn’t resolve on its own or improve with individualized, nonsurgical care. 

Want to learn more about common types of arthritis and how you can manage them? Request an appointment online or over the phone at our office in Munster or Crown Point, Indiana, today.