What are Some Different Types of Arthritis?

Sheri Cyprus

Arthritis is joint inflammation and/or irritation. There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Some fairly common types of arthritis include tendinitis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder.

Tendinitis is a type of arthritis that involves the inflammation of a tendon. A tendon is a rope-like body part that adheres muscles to bones. The pain from tendinitis is not directly in the joint itself, but close to the joint. Common areas prone to tendinitis are the knees, elbows and shoulders. Jumper's knee, tennis elbow and swimmer's shoulder are some of the common terms used for tendinitis.

Osteoarthritis causes the wearing down of the body's joints, affecting mobility.
Osteoarthritis causes the wearing down of the body's joints, affecting mobility.

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Rheumatoid arthritis involves chronic joint and tissue inflammation and it may also affect the organs. Rheumatoid arthritis may be symptom-free and then suddenly produce symptoms of joint pain. Severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis can lead to painful disability due to badly swollen joints. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly occurs between the ages of 40 and 60 and more women are affected by the disease than men.

An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.
An illustration of a healthy spine and one with spinal osteoarthritis.

Bursitis is arthritis that affects the bursa. Bursa are oil-filled sacs in the body that act as cushions for the body's moving parts. When the bursa become inflamed, they swell and cause friction instead of reducing friction as they are supposed to do.

There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, which can affect any part of the body.
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, which can affect any part of the body.

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is not caused by inflammation, but from the wearing down of the joints. The cartilage between the joints may become so thin that the bones have no cushioning and grate together painfully. Overweight and older people are more likely to get osteoarthritis as both excess weight and age can put pressure on bones and joints. Some people may also be genetically predisposed to osteoarthritis.

Tennis elbow is a common term used for tendinitis.
Tennis elbow is a common term used for tendinitis.

Treatment options for arthritis depend on the type. Tendinitis rarely requires surgery unless rupture occurs, while cases of osteoarthritis often require surgery to improve mobility and prevent extreme disability. Some cases of rheumatoid arthritis also benefit from increased mobility through surgery.

Cortisone injections are sometimes prescribed for those with bursitis. Anti-inflammatory medications are commonly prescribed for most types of arthritis. Rest and alleviation of pressure such as by using a walker or cane may help to reduce pain in many arthritis patients.

Shoulder inflammation may be indicative of tendinitis.
Shoulder inflammation may be indicative of tendinitis.

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