There are over 100 types of arthritis that all share integral symptoms like joint pain and stiffness. Explore the differences between some of the leading diagnoses and what they mean for the future of your joints.

Arthritis isn’t so much a condition by itself as it is a term that collectively describes over 100 conditions that cause joint pain and stiffness. The pain can be debilitating if you don’t properly manage your arthritis, and many types progress rapidly with age. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis for your arthritis so you can properly manage the symptoms.

Symptoms of arthritis can vary based on the type you have. Watch out for these general symptoms:

  • Persistent pain in any of your joints
  • Joint stiffness and decreased range of motion
  • Swelling around affected joints
  • Redness and warmth around joints signifying inflammation

The experienced orthopedic surgeons at North Point Orthopaedics in Munster, Crown Point, and Valparaiso, Indiana, see arthritis frequently. With their extensive backgrounds in orthopedic medicine, they can distinguish among the different types of arthritis and treat them accordingly.

It would take us all day to review every form of arthritis, but many are rare and unlikely to be at the root of your joint pain and dysfunction. Here, we discuss the most prevalent among them and their differences.

Notable differences

The experts at North Point Orthopaedics explore many different avenues if you have joint pain, stiffness, and other possible signs of arthritis. With blood tests, joint fluid tests, and imaging tests, they gather information that helps them narrow down a diagnosis.

Your symptoms could point to forms of arthritis within one of these categories:


Osteoarthritis is the most common form, affecting 32.5 million adults in the United States alone. It develops over time as damage accumulates inside certain joints due to overuse. It breaks down the cartilage and diminishes the lubricating fluid inside affected joints.

The amount of pain you experience from osteoarthritis varies but generally worsens over time if you don’t manage the condition. While it might feel uncomfortable or counterintuitive at first, consistent exercise helps slow your osteoarthritis progression.

Inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common type, arise because of a dysfunctional immune system. While your body’s system of defense naturally protects you from infectious diseases and foreign substances, an overactive immune system can damage the tissues in your joints, causing inflammation and pain.

Alongside rheumatoid arthritis in the inflammatory category are psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Infectious arthritis

Also called septic arthritis, infectious arthritis happens when an infection from somewhere in your body migrates into one of your joints. Rarely, it can also happen as a complication of joint surgery or an infected joint wound. Infections can cause rapid and permanent damage to affected joints, though this damage is usually isolated in just one joint.

Post-traumatic arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis appears in joints that have been injured, often while playing sports or in a car accident. Like infectious arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis develops rapidly instead of slowly over the course of months or years. However, this type is usually temporary.

Childhood arthritis

Childhood arthritis, or juvenile arthritis, is exceedingly rare and the cause is often unidentifiable. Some cases of childhood arthritis are within the category of inflammatory arthritis.

What you can do

You shouldn’t ignore joint pain, stiffness, or swelling that either never goes away or always returns when it does. Our team of experts at North Point Orthopaedics reviews your symptoms and conducts tests to identify your arthritis type and develop a suitable care plan to keep your joints functional.

We provide the latest arthritis care available to help you avoid or delay surgery, including:

  • Joint injections
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
  • Immunosuppressant medications
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Posture training
  • Lifestyle accommodations

Joint replacement surgery may be on the table if your arthritis doesn’t improve with conservative care.

For top-quality arthritis care and expertise, call North Point Orthopaedics or schedule a visit online today.

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