Types of Arthritis

Learn more about the common forms of arthritis and their impact on your joints and overall health. From understanding the various types of arthritis to exploring tailored treatment options, embark on a journey towards managing your symptoms effectively.

At Quality Primary Care in Rockville & Gaithersburg, MD, our dedicated team offers a comprehensive evaluation for arthritis, focusing on your individual health needs. Book an appointment today to begin your personalized journey towards improved joint health and well-being.

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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints and surrounding connective tissues. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Arthritis conditions are also referred to as rheumatic diseases, an umbrella term for several conditions that affect the joints, tendons, muscles, ligaments, bones, and muscles.

Arthritis isn’t a single diagnosis, but a term used to describe joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness. 

Arthritis can affect any joint in your body and may begin at any age. However, when left untreated, arthritis worsens over time and may lead to permanent joint damage and disability.

Types of Arthritis

A few of the most common forms of arthritis include:


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It often affects the joints that weight bears like your hips, knees, feet, and spine.


Osteoarthritis is a “wear and tear” arthritis that occurs through overuse. The cartilage on the ends of your bones in the joint wears down through use. As the protective cartilage wears away the joint becomes painful and friction in the joint can cause swelling.

Who Does it Affect?

Osteoarthritis usually affects those who are older, overweight, or have had a previous injury to the joint.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of osteoarthritis will depend on which joint or joints are affected. Symptoms may include:

  • Persistent deep ache in your joint
  • Difficulties performing everyday tasks, depending on which joint is affected
  • Stiffness in your joint when you wake up or after resting
  • Warmth in your joint
  • Joint swelling
  • reduced range of motion

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is another common type of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning that your immune system attacks parts of the body, including the joints. This causes inflammation which subsequently damages the joints.


Although the exact cause of RA is not fully understood, it’s thought that the immune system gets confused after fighting against an infection inside one of your joints. Your immune system then starts to fight against the cells of your joint and then spreads to other parts of your body.

Signs and Symptoms

Rheumatoid arthritis often has more severe symptoms than osteoarthritis. The symptoms can come on suddenly or gradually. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include the following:

  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in more than one joint
  • Swelling is more common in the smaller joints such as the hands, feet, and wrists
  • Swelling of joints on both sides of your body.
  • Stiffness in your joints that lasts many hours from when you wake up.

Who Does it Affect?

Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly occurs in women over the age of 60. Other risks include smoking, obesity, and genetics. There is, however, a form of RA called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (also known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis) that can affect children.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis occurs in about 10 – 30 % of people who have psoriasis. This disease causes inflammation in both the skin and the joints.


Although the exact trigger is unknown, it is the immune system that causes inflammation. This inflammation causes your skin cells to form too quickly. It results in issues with your skin, fingernails, or scalp.

Signs and Symptoms

Psoriatic arthritis often affects the fingers and toes. You may also notice that your fingernails are pitted or discolored too.

Who Does it Affect?

Psoriatic arthritis occurs in about 10 -30% of psoriasis patients. It is mainly attributed to people to genetic factors but those who smoke tobacco or drink alcohol are at a higher risk.


Gout is an inflammatory arthritis caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in a joint. It often occurs in your big toe or foot but it is possible to occur in other joints too.


An increase in uric acid may cause you to develop gout. An increase in uric acid may be attributed to one of the following:

  • Your body is producing more uric acid.
  • Your kidneys are not processing the uric acid your body makes.
  • Your diet is increasing the level of uric acid.

Signs and Symptoms

Those with gout will often experience a gout attack. This is when you feel intense joint pain in your big toe or another joint. Gout attacks can last from 3 to 10 days at a time. Common symptoms of gout include:

  • Sharp joint pain
  • Discomfort in the joint even after a gout attack
  • Inflammation and redness in the joint
  • Stiffness in the joint

Who Does it Affect?

Gout can affect anyone. However, the risk factors include a diet rich in uric acid, being overweight, and having a family history of gout.

Arthritis Evaluation

At Quality Primary Care our team takes an integrative approach to evaluating arthritis. We will take into consideration your whole health as we consider your arthritic symptoms.

During your evaluation, one of our doctors will review your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. They will pay close attention to the arthritis symptoms in the affected joints.

Our team may also run lab work and request diagnostic imaging to determine the type of arthritis you have and the severity of the joint damage.

Treatment Options

Our team will create a customized treatment plan for your arthritis based on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying condition causing your joint pain and stiffness. Treatment aims to reduce pain and swelling and increase joint function.

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Other disease-specific medications (rheumatoid arthritis, gout)
  • Activity modification
  • Joint injections
  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy


Early diagnosis and treatment are important as they can prevent the condition from causing permanent joint damage and disability.

In cases where joint damage is severe and fails to respond to medical treatment, you may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss joint surgery options.

Schedule an Appointment

Ready to take control of your arthritis symptoms? Schedule your appointment with Quality Primary Care today and take the first step towards a more comfortable and active lifestyle.

Medically reviewed by
Suresh Malik, MD