Each type of arthritis has different symptoms and patterns. Each requires different treatments. Common symptoms include:
- Pain or tenderness in the joints
- Swelling in one or more joints
- Warmth and redness in a joint
- Stiffness or difficulty using or moving the joint
Severe rheumatoid arthritis (shown above right) can destroy the joints and deform the wrist, finger and knuckle joints. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms include fatigue, weaknesses, loss of appetite, fever and anemia. When a person gets up after sleeping, joints are usually stiff, swollen and tender.
Some forms of arthritis go through cycles of getting better and worse. A flare-up means the disease is more active. During this time, there is increased morning stiffness, more pain and swelling in the joints, involvement of new joints, and increased tiredness and fatigue. Flare-ups can occur after eating a specific food. Milk is the most common offender. Other foods are shrimp, wheat products, and certain meats.
Causes and Risk Factors
It is not yet known what causes arthritis. Inflammation occurs in a damaged area of a joint. Damage can be caused by injury, infection, neurogenic disturbances, metabolic disturbances, among others.
New research indicates that people with certain gene types seem to be more likely to get certain kinds of arthritis. There are also signs that microorganisms may trigger its start.