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The Facts Put Simply.

There are more than 100 arthritis types.

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The most predominant types or causes of arthritis include:

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
Osteoarthritis (OA)
Septic arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)


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Some of the less common arthritis types include:

Ankylosing Spondylitis
Gonococcal arthritis
Lyme Disease
Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Psoriatic arthritis
Reiter's Syndrome
Sjogren's Syndrome
Still's disease


Scleroderma is characterized by excessive deposits of collagen (a structureal protein) in the skin and various other organs such as the heart, kidneys, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. These deposits can cause thickening and hardening of the affected organs. The disease often begins with Raynaud's phenomenon, blanching and cooling of fingers and toes on exposure to cold or during emotional episodes, Raynaud's phenomenon, which occurs in about 5% of the population, results from abnormal changes in the small blood vessels of the hands and feet that prevent the blood from flowing properly.

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Sjogren's Syndrome

Sjogren's syndrome is marked by dryness of the eyes and mouth, caused by the destruction of the lymph glands that secrete tears and saliva. It may be a primary disease, or it may be secondary to certain rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma. Patients with this disease may also be at increased risk for developing lymphomas, as well as inflammatory blood vessel disease and nervous system dysfunction. Sjogren's syndrome is common in women but not well recognized in men.

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Reiter's Syndrome

Reiter's syndrome is a combination of urethritis, conjunctivitis, and arthritis. The arthritis affects the spine and peripheral joints. The disease occurs most commonly in young male adults, and the first attack usually lasts only a matter of weeks or months.

Although Reiter's syndrome is not considered a venereal disease, it appears to result from infection, and sexual exposure to an infectious agent often seems to be the cause.

The disease also appears after diarrhea, sometimes during epidemics. Research has shown that the majority of patients with the disease have genetic predisposition to it.

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Polymyalgia Rheumatica

Polymyalgia rheumatica usually afflicts people aver the age of 50; it causes stiffness and severe aching in the shoulders and hips. Sometimes other joints ache as well, and a few may be swollen. If the disorder is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms may worsen and include fever, fatigue, weight loss, and inflammation of the arteries. On rare occasions, the artery to the eye is affected, resulting in blindness.

The cause of polymylagia is unknown. Without treatment, the disease may last for three years or more and can involve considerable pain and disability. Fortunately, the condition is dramatically relieved almost immediately with corticosteroid treatment. Prednisone is generally given and most patients are well within days and can resume normal activities. The drug does not cure the disease, but it eliminates the symptoms. Long-term treatment is usually necessary. The disease tends to disappear after a period of months or years.

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Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an inflammatory arthritis of the spine. It may be a systemic disorder, and it affects males more often than females. Diagnosis is usually made during young adulthood. The disorder is characterized by back pain, stiffness, and loss of spinal mobility due to involvement of spinal joints. Later these joints tend to become fused and rigid. The hips and shoulders may also become inflamed and stiff.

While not fatal, this is a serious disease, which if left untreated can result in permanently deformed posture. In its initial stages, AS can be confused with many other causes of back pain. Consequently, those afflicted with the disease are frequently misdiagnosed. They can spend thousands of dollars over a period of years in search of a proper diagnosis, all the while their symptoms are worsening.

The disease is treated with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs. Exercise, posture training, and orthopedic correction are also important aspects of therapy. An inherited blood component known as HLA-B27 occurs in over 90% of patients with spinal arthritis. This component is therefore now considered to be a 'marker' or early warning sign for identifying those who may develop the disease in the future. Only a minority, about one-fifth of persons with the marker, develop arthritis of the spine.

Certain antirheumatic drugs are effective in combating the spinal inflammation. Practice of appropriate exercises and development of constructive habits of body use in everyday activities are significant preventive measures as AS progresses. For this reason, early recognition of the disease is important.

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Lyme Disease

• Lyme disease is caused by a tick-borne spirochete, Borrelia burgdorferi which was isolated in 1982 by a scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The disease was first identified in 1975 in Connecticut; it has been reported in thousands of people living along the Atlantic coast, in some Midwestern and Western states, and in numerous foreign countries.

• The first sign of infection is usually a crimson rash shaped somewhat like a bull's eye. Symptoms can progress to chills, fatigue, and backaches even 30 days later. If left untreated, a second set of symptoms can develop, including severe headaches, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and dizziness. Third-stage symptoms - occurring as much as two years after infection - can include arthritis-like swelling of the joints, usually painful and sometimes disabling.

• Inspecting oneself frequently for ticks and removing them promptly may lower the risk of infection and should be recommended to residents of regions where Lyme disease is prevalent.

• When the disease is treated early with antibiotics, physicians believe that most people recover without developing complications. Left untreated, there is general agreement that the risk of long-term problems increases - but just how much is a matter of debate.

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Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes swelling and pain in and around the joints. It can affect a number of joints including the fingers, wrists, toes, knees, ankles, elbows and shoulder joints, the spine and joints in the lower back (called sacroiliac joints). Psoriatic arthritis also affects tissues surrounding the joints including tendons and ligaments. It may cause a swelling of the whole digit called “sausage” finger or toe. There is also skin inflammation, particularly on the elbows, knees and scalp. Psoriatic arthritis is linked to psoriasis, a disorder causing areas of the skin to become inflamed and be covered with silvery or grey scales.
• Psoriatic arthritis affects men and women in equal numbers
• It usually appears in people between the ages of 20 and 50
• Up to 30% of people with psoriasis also get psoriatic arthritis
• It is a less common form of arthritis
• It affects both men and women in equal numbers
• Up to 30% of people with psoriasis (skin disorder) will also get psoriatic arthritis
• Although psoriasis may start at any age (commonly in the late teens), the arthritis component usually makes its appearance later - in the 20s, 30s and 40s
• Commonly, psoriasis shows first, but in a small percentage of people (approximately 15%), arthritis may show first.

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Gonococcal arthritis

Gonococcal arthritis is an infection, usually of a single joint (in 90-95% of cases) that occurs with gonorrhea. This infection occurs in people who have been infected with gonorrhea. It affects women four times more often than men, and is most common among sexually active adolescent girls. There is also increased risk during menstruation and pregnancy.

Two forms of this arthritis exist -- one with skin rashes and multiple joint involvement, and a second, less common, form in which disseminated gonococcemia leads to infection of a single joint (monoarticular) and joint fluid cultures are positive.

Single joint arthritis follows generalized spread (dissemination) of the gonococcal infection. Dissemination is associated with symptoms of fever, chills, multiple joint aches (arthralgia), and rashes (1-mm to 2-cm red macules). This episode may end as a single joint becomes infected. The most commonly involved joints are the large joints such as the knee, wrist, and ankle.


• Migrating joint pain for 1 to 4 days (polyarthralgia)
• Pain in the hands/wrists due to tendon inflammation (tenosynovitis)
• Single joint pain
• Fever
• Skin rash (lesions are flat, pink to red, may become pustular or purpuric)
• Pain or burning on urination
• Lower abdominal pain

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Still's disease - adult; AOSD

Adult Still's disease is a rare illness marked by high, spiky fevers, rash, and joint pain. It may lead to long-term (chronic) arthritis.

It is more commonly called adult-onset Still's disease (AOSD). Fewer than 1 out of 100,000 people develop adult Still's disease each year. It affects women more often than men. Still's disease that occurs in children is called systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

The cause of adult Still's disease is unknown. No risk factors for the disease have been identified.


• Almost all patients will have fever, joint pain, sore throat, and a rash.
• The fever usually comes on quickly once per day, most commonly in the afternoon or evening
• The skin rash is typically salmon pink colored and comes and goes with the fever
• Joint pain, warmth, and swelling are common.

Usually, several joints are involved at the same time. Often, patients have morning stiffness of joints that lasts for several hours.
Additional symptoms include:

• Swollen lymph nodes (glands)
• Sore throat
• Pain with a deep breath (pleurisy)
• Abdominal pain and swelling
• Weight loss.
• Occasionally, the spleen or liver may become swollen. Lung and heart inflammation may occur

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