Arthritis – a collective term for different diseases

Last modified: December 11, 2019

Similar to rheumatism, arthritis is a collective term for multiple diseases. The common denominators for all of them is that they affect the joints and that they are inflammatory diseases. Any joint in the body can be affected, but different diseases affect different joints. Common symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and pain in and around the affected joint. However, certain diseases can affect other organs than just the joints. A few examples of diseases in this category include gout, pseudogout, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Is arthritis and osteoarthritis the same thing?

Arthritis is a way to describe different conditions that affect the joints. This is then not just a single diagnosis, but rather a collective term that includes several different diseases. Osteoarthritis, however, is a separate condition. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease in the world, and it affects around one in four persons over the age of 45.

More information about osteoarthritis is available here.

Rheumatoid arthritis (REMA)

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that is related to both rheumatism and arthritis – which can be heard in the name. This is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body’s immune response has started to attack its own tissue. Smaller joints, such as hands and feet, are typically affected first. The symptoms usually appear on both sides of the body, e.g. both the right and left hand. It is normal for the affected joints to swell up and become painful. There is currently no cure for the disease, but exercises and medications can be used for treatment.

Click here to read more about rheumatoid arthritis.

Gout and pseudogout

Both gout and pseudogout belong under the umbrella term arthritis.  Both of these diseases have similar symptoms:

●     Sudden pain and inflammation in the affected joint, often at night

●     The affected joint is very sensitive to motion

●     Fever or generally feeling unwell

Most commonly, the big toe is affected. In most cases, the inflammation completely subsides in a few weeks.

Septic arthritis

Septic arthritis is the result of bacteria causing an infection in a joint. The bacteria enter the joint either via a wound or some type of invasive treatment in the joint, such as a surgery or an injection. It isn’t always clear how the bacteria got into the joint. The bacteria could have spread from another localized infection somewhere in the body. The disease should be treated quickly, otherwise it can lead to damage to the affected joint. The medication that is usually given for the condition includes antibiotics. In many cases, the affected person needs to be admitted to a hospital.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the joints. The symptoms, similar to many of the diseases above, include pain, stiffness, and swelling around the affected joint. However, tenderness in muscles and tendon insertions can occur. The amount of pain can vary from person to person. Most commonly, the knees, ankles, hands, feet or spine are affected. This is not an entirely rare disease, but it is often mixed in with other types of joint diseases. Roughly 20% of persons with psoriasis on their skin develop psoriatic arthritis, but the joint condition can also occur without skin eruptions.

Here is more information about pain in the knee during exercise.