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A guide to the four most common types of arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of joints and millions of people in the UK suffer from arthritis. However, people are not always sure of what type of arthritis they may be suffering from. This guide will look at the four most common types of arthritis.

Throughout the different types of arthritis, different joints are affected and will need to be treated in different ways.

Physiotherapy can play a crucial role in helping treat all types of arthritis as it will help you maximise muscle strength, joint mobility and flexibility.

OSTEOARTHRTIS

This is the most common type of arthritis with 8.5 million people in the UK suffering from it and is likely to gradually develop over time.

The cartilage at the joint will become worn and rough and can even completely wear out. This will cause osteophytes, a small bony growth, to form at the edge of the joint. This space becomes narrowed and tissues surrounding the joint may thicken.

Usually, there will be inflammation making the joint stiff and painful. It most commonly affects hands, knees, hips, feet and spine.

To treat osteoarthritis people will use medication such as pain relief or anti-inflammation, others will also follow exercise plans to help strengthen the muscle around their joints.

RHUEMATOID ARTHRITIS

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease affecting your joint sand tendons and will usually ‘flare up’ rather than gradually increase over time.

The body will usually help heal the body, but if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation become prolonged and causes damage. This happens as the immune system starts to attack your joints.

The joint capsule becomes inflamed and causes pain, stiffness and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects your neck, hands and feet.

There are different methods to treat rheumatoid arthritis such as medication and even surgery in extreme cases. Additionally, seeing a physiotherapist and learning to pace yourself in daily tasks will help limit the risk of worsening your symptoms and overall condition.

GOUT

Gout is known to react well to treatment and correct and effective treatment can help avoid further joint damage. It’s caused by high levels of uric acid crystals building up in joints.

This happens when the levels of uric acid are too high in the body, either because more is being produced or it is not being effectively removed. Once the uric acid forms crystals around the joints and begin to move into the joint space you’ll begin to feel pain. Swelling and inflammation.

These symptoms will usually last several days the begin to settle and the joint begins to return to normal and will most commonly affect the big toe but can also affect the ankle, knee, wrist or elbow.

Severe acute cases of gout can be treated with ant-inflammatory medicine. However, for people who regularly suffer from gout then preventative medication may be taken to help stop a build up of uric acid. Drinking water and avoiding alcohol and red meat can also help prevent gout.

ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS

Another form of inflammatory arthritis which mainly affects the spine; however, it can affect your hips and shoulders.

The joints in the lower part of the spine will become painful and inflamed, where the sacrum joins the pelvis. This inflammation will begin to affect vertebra higher up the spine.

The inflammation causes scar tissue to form in the joint spaces between the vertebra reducing movement and over time this scar tissue may become calcified, turning into a bone-like tissue. This fuses joints together and limits movement in the spine.

Anti-inflammatory medication will be used to treat the problem and to prevent further damage being caused over time. Keeping active and quitting smoking are two recommend thing to do to help prevent ankylosing spondylitis.

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